Project update - 03/28/2014

Lab Note #4
Mar 28, 2014

Hello everyone,

Since the project was funded I’ve been working extremely hard! I have some exciting results on the project so far and some new future directions:

1. I’ve characterized the microbiomes of Burns and Lake Como for Dermacentor andersoni ticks

- I’ve demonstrated that the microbiomes of these ticks are tissue specific – each tissue had a different composition of bacteria and primary endosymbiont … this has significant impact on microbiome studies because many of them sequence whole ticks (not individual tissues)

- Also, these locations have some overlap with bacteria present in the microbiomes, but the primary endosymbionts were unique

2. I’ve manipulated the microbiome using antibiotics

- I’ve used sequencing to determine that the antibiotics did change the microbiome of these ticks – now it’s time to see what those changes will do

- I’m currently doing an experiment to determine if the manipulated microbiome will have a change in the tick’s ability to acquire (or become infected) with a pathogen – Anaplasma marginale … so stay tuned for the results

3. Future project (EXCITING!)

- There is a hypothesis called Rickettsia Exclusion Hypothesis – to simply explain it … one species of the bacteria Rickettsia interferes or even stops the ability of a second species of Rickettsia to infect the tick. There is a lot of debate if this exclusion is real – some studies say they’ve demonstrated it, where others say that it isn’t real. There are many pathogenic Rickettsia and many non-pathogenic species, so this hypothesis could be very important.

- My sequence results have shown that Lake Como has a primary endosymbiont that was a Rickettsia … Well I am going to take that endosymbiont and microinject it into a population of the same tick without the Rickettsia … THEN we will see if we can interfere with Anaplasma marginale acquisition (since A. marginale is a Rickettsia)

- This is really exciting because if we can show hard proof of Rickettsia Exclusion it would make so big steps in microbiology, vector-borne biology, and entomology.

This may have been a bit technical, so if you have any questions, comments, or anything else please feel free to email me at

Many thanks!


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