Open Access Research article

Survival of taylorellae in the environmental amoeba Acanthamoeba castellanii

Julie Allombert12345, Anne Vianney12345, Claire Laugier6, Sandrine Petry6* and Laurent Hébert6

Author Affiliations

1 International Center for Infectiology Research (CIRI) Legionella pathogenesis group, Université de Lyon, Lyon, France

2 Inserm, U1111, Lyon, France

3 Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Lyon, France

4 Université Lyon 1, Centre International de Recherche en Infectiologie (CIRI), Lyon, France

5 CNRS, UMR5308, Lyon, France

6 ANSES, Dozulé Laboratory for Equine Diseases, Bacteriology and Parasitology Unit, 14430 Goustranville, France

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Microbiology 2014, 14:69  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-14-69

Published: 19 March 2014



Taylorella equigenitalis is the causative agent of contagious equine metritis, a sexually-transmitted infection of Equidae characterised in infected mares by abundant mucopurulent vaginal discharge and a variable degree of vaginitis, cervicitis or endometritis, usually resulting in temporary infertility. The second species of the Taylorella genus, Taylorella asinigenitalis, is considered non-pathogenic, although mares experimentally infected with this bacterium can develop clinical signs of endometritis. To date, little is understood about the basic molecular virulence and persistence mechanisms employed by the Taylorella species. To clarify these points, we investigated whether the host-pathogen interaction model Acanthamoeba castellanii was a suitable model for studying taylorellae.


We herein demonstrate that both species of the Taylorella genus are internalised by a mechanism involving the phagocytic capacity of the amoeba and are able to survive for at least one week inside the amoeba. During this one-week incubation period, taylorellae concentrations remain strikingly constant and no overt toxicity to amoeba cells was observed.


This study provides the first evidence of the capacity of taylorellae to survive in a natural environment other than the mammalian genital tract, and shows that the alternative infection model, A. castellanii, constitutes a relevant alternative system to assess host-pathogen interactions of taylorellae. The survival of taylorellae inside the potential environmental reservoir A. castellanii brings new insight, fostering a broader understanding of taylorellae biology and its potential natural ecological niche.

Taylorella equigenitalis; Taylorella asinigenitalis; Contagious equine metritis; Acanthamoeba castellanii; Endosymbiont