Date of Award

Fall 2013

Project Type


Program or Major

M icrobiology

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Cheryl Whistler


V. parahaemolyticus infection from ingesting shellfish is a global problem and incidence rates are on the rise in the U.S. Current detection methods are ineffective due to the lack of definite pathogenic marker thus studies to elucidate virulence mechanism are crucial and impeded by the lack of an efficient high-throughput model that emulate disease. Of multiple alternative models investigates, only C. elegans was able to discern different virulence potential among V. parahaemolyticus strains. In addition, the pandemic strain had greater colonization ability when in direct competition with the pre-pandemic strain in C.elegans intestine. A transposon insertion mutant library was generated and screened for changes in virulence-associated traits. Capsule production mutants had decreased virulence and colonization ability in C. elegans compared to the wild-type MDOH-04-5M732. C. elegans infections were humanized through temperature and the addition of human hormonal cues, thus C. elegans is a versatile model for V. parahaemolyticus infection studies.