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January 1, 2019

The Anaplasma ovis genome reveals a high proportion of pseudogenes.

The genus Anaplasma is made up of organisms characterized by small genomes that are undergoing reductive evolution. Anaplasma ovis, one of the seven recognized species in this genus, is an understudied pathogen of sheep and other ruminants. This tick-borne agent is thought to induce only mild clinical disease; however, small deficits may add to larger economic impacts due to the wide geographic distribution of this pathogen.In this report we present the first complete genome sequence for A. ovis and compare the genome features with other closely related species. The 1,214,674?bp A. ovis genome encodes 933 protein coding sequences, the split…

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October 4, 2017

Laboratory colonization stabilizes the naturally dynamic microbiome composition of field collected Dermacentor andersoni ticks.

Nearly a quarter of emerging infectious diseases identified in the last century are arthropod-borne. Although ticks and insects can carry pathogenic microorganisms, non-pathogenic microbes make up the majority of their microbial communities. The majority of tick microbiome research has had a focus on discovery and description; very few studies have analyzed the ecological context and functional responses of the bacterial microbiome of ticks. The goal of this analysis was to characterize the stability of the bacterial microbiome of Dermacentor andersoni ticks between generations and two populations within a species.The bacterial microbiome of D. andersoni midguts and salivary glands was analyzed…

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February 8, 2017

Genome scaffolding and annotation for the pathogen vector Ixodes ricinus by ultra-long single molecule sequencing.

Global warming and other ecological changes have facilitated the expansion of Ixodes ricinus tick populations. Ixodes ricinus is the most important carrier of vector-borne pathogens in Europe, transmitting viruses, protozoa and bacteria, in particular Borrelia burgdorferi (sensu lato), the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis, the most prevalent vector-borne disease in humans in the Northern hemisphere. To faster control this disease vector, a better understanding of the I. ricinus tick is necessary. To facilitate such studies, we recently published the first reference genome of this highly prevalent pathogen vector. Here, we further extend these studies by scaffolding and annotating the first…

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August 1, 2016

The bacterial microbiome of Dermacentor andersoni ticks influences pathogen susceptibility.

Ticks are of medical importance owing to their ability to transmit pathogens to humans and animals. The Rocky Mountain wood tick, Dermacentor andersoni, is a vector of a number of pathogens, including Anaplasma marginale, which is the most widespread tick-borne pathogen of livestock. Although ticks host pathogenic bacteria, they also harbor bacterial endosymbionts that have a role in tick physiology, survival, as well as pathogen acquisition and transmission. The goal of this study was to characterize the bacterial microbiome and examine the impact of microbiome disruption on pathogen susceptibility. The bacterial microbiome of two populations of D. andersoni with historically…

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February 4, 2016

Transcriptional profiling the 150 kb linear megaplasmid of Borrelia turicatae suggests a role in vector colonization and initiating mammalian infection.

Adaptation is key for survival as vector-borne pathogens transmit between the arthropod and vertebrate, and temperature change is an environmental signal inducing alterations in gene expression of tick-borne spirochetes. While plasmids are often associated with adaptation, complex genomes of relapsing fever spirochetes have hindered progress in understanding the mechanisms of vector colonization and transmission. We utilized recent advances in genome sequencing to generate the most complete version of the Borrelia turicatae 150 kb linear megaplasmid (lp150). Additionally, a transcriptional analysis of open reading frames (ORFs) in lp150 was conducted and identified regions that were up-regulated during in vitro cultivation at…

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January 19, 2016

Multiple and diverse vsp and vlp sequences in Borrelia miyamotoi, a hard tick-borne zoonotic pathogen.

Based on chromosome sequences, the human pathogen Borrelia miyamotoi phylogenetically clusters with species that cause relapsing fever. But atypically for relapsing fever agents, B. miyamotoi is transmitted not by soft ticks but by hard ticks, which also are vectors of Lyme disease Borrelia species. To further assess the relationships of B. miyamotoi to species that cause relapsing fever, I investigated extrachromosomal sequences of a North American strain with specific attention on plasmid-borne vsp and vlp genes, which are the underpinnings of antigenic variation during relapsing fever. For a hybrid approach to achieve assemblies that spanned more than one of the…

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October 15, 2015

The mitochondrial genome of a Texas outbreak strain of the cattle tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, derived from whole genome sequencing Pacific Biosciences and Illumina reads.

The cattle fever tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus is one of the most significant medical veterinary pests in the world, vectoring several serious livestock diseases negatively impacting agricultural economies of tropical and subtropical countries around the world. In our study, we assembled the complete R. microplus mitochondrial genome from Illumina and Pac Bio sequencing reads obtained from the ongoing R. microplus (Deutsch strain from Texas, USA) genome sequencing project. We compared the Deutsch strain mitogenome to the mitogenome from a Brazilian R. microplus and from an Australian cattle tick that has recently been taxonomically designated as Rhipicephalus australis after previously being…

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September 16, 2015

Survey of Ixodes pacificus ticks in California reveals a diversity of microorganisms and a novel and widespread Anaplasmataceae species.

Ixodes pacificus ticks can harbor a wide range of human and animal pathogens. To survey the prevalence of tick-borne known and putative pathogens, we tested 982 individual adult and nymphal I. pacificus ticks collected throughout California between 2007 and 2009 using a broad-range PCR and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (PCR/ESI-MS) assay designed to detect a wide range of tick-borne microorganisms. Overall, 1.4% of the ticks were found to be infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, 2.0% were infected with Borrelia miyamotoi and 0.3% were infected with Anaplasma phagocytophilum. In addition, 3.0% were infected with Babesia odocoilei. About 1.2% of the ticks were…

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August 1, 2015

Acetylcholinesterase 1 in populations of organophosphate-resistant North American strains of the cattle tick, Rhipicephalus microplus (Acari: Ixodidae).

Rhipicephalus microplus, the cattle fever tick, is a global economic problem to the cattle industry due to direct infestation of cattle and pathogens transmitted during feeding. Cattle fever tick outbreaks continue to occur along the Mexico-US border even though the tick has been eradicated from the USA. The organophosphate (OP) coumaphos targets acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and is the approved acaricide for eradicating cattle fever tick outbreaks. There is evidence for coumaphos resistance developing in cattle ticks in Mexico, and OP-resistant R. microplus ticks were discovered in outbreak populations of Texas in 2005. The molecular basis of coumaphos resistance is not known,…

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June 1, 2014

Inhibitors of the tick-borne, hemorrhagic fever-associated flaviviruses.

No antiviral therapies are available for the tick-borne flaviviruses associated with hemorrhagic fevers: Kyasanur Forest disease virus (KFDV), both classical and the Alkhurma hemorrhagic fever virus (AHFV) subtype, and Omsk hemorrhagic fever virus (OHFV). We tested compounds reported to have antiviral activity against members of the Flaviviridae family for their ability to inhibit AHFV replication. 6-Azauridine (6-azaU), 2'-C-methylcytidine (2'-CMC), and interferon alpha 2a (IFN-a2a) inhibited the replication of AHFV and also KFDV, OHFV, and Powassan virus. The combination of IFN-a2a and 2'-CMC exerted an additive antiviral effect on AHFV, and the combination of IFN-a2a and 6-azaU was moderately synergistic. The…

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November 1, 2012

Structure of the type IV secretion system in different strains of Anaplasma phagocytophilum.

Anaplasma phagocytophilum is an intracellular organism in the Order Rickettsiales that infects diverse animal species and is causing an emerging disease in humans, dogs and horses. Different strains have very different cell tropisms and virulence. For example, in the U.S., strains have been described that infect ruminants but not dogs or rodents. An intriguing question is how the strains of A. phagocytophilum differ and what different genome loci are involved in cell tropisms and/or virulence. Type IV secretion systems (T4SS) are responsible for translocation of substrates across the cell membrane by mechanisms that require contact with the recipient cell. They…

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