Tick Species and Pathogen Surveys and Microbial Interactions of Ticks in Northwest Texas

Date
2023-08
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Abstract

Ticks are responsible for the majority of vector borne disease transmission in the United States. Globally, ticks transmit a greater diversity of pathogens than any other group of arthropod vectors. In the subsequent studies I assessed the of the number of tick species and the risk of vector borne disease transmission in Northwest Texas, characterized the bacterial microbiome and the presence of particular bacterial symbionts of ticks collected in Northwest Texas, and investigated the tripartite interaction between the tick host I. scapularis, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Wolbachia infections in vitro. Furthermore, I have developed a set of PCR assays to identify families of arboviruses that could be used in future surveys to investigate whether ticks can be vectors of novel viruses. Throughout these studies, I detected the presence of three potential pathogens E. chaffeensis and Anaplasma spp, and Rickettsia spp. in Northwest Texas. 16S sequencing was completed for 20 tick samples that were collected from three separate counties within Texas’ Health Region 1 and was comprised of D. variabilis (n=2), R. sanguineus (n=17), and one unidentified tick sample. The microbiome composition at the phylum level consisted of mostly Actinobacteria, followed by Proteobacteria, then Firmicutes. We demonstrated the transfection of ISE6 cells with a walbB infection from donor Aa23 mosquito cells. This work demonstrates short-term, in vitro infections of Wolbachia can be established in ISE6 cells and can impact A. phagocytophilum proliferation, which suggests the need to examine the interaction of different Wolbachia types in tick cells. Finally, I successfully developed three pairs of pan virus primers (MAMD_KS_F/ CFD2_KS_R, VIR966KS_F/ VIR966KS_R, and Nairo_L_F/ Nairo_L_R) and demonstrated the utility of a previously published set of primers (BCS82C/ BCS332V) (Kuno et al., 1996) for amplification of multiple species of Orthobunyaviruses, Alphaviruses, Flaviviruses, and Nairoviruses.


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Keywords
Tick-borne disease, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Dermacentor variabilis, Rickettsia spp., Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Otobius megnini, Wolbachia, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Tick microbiome, Arbovirus
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