Tick biology and detection of tick-borne diseases

Tick-borne diseases are prevalent worldwide, with many on the rise as tick populations continue to increase and expand their geographic distribution. We are studying the symbionts, microbiome and pathogens present in the deer tick Ixodes scapularis using various genomic approaches. We are developing new molecular diagnostic tests that can be used to detect tick-borne infections in humans. We are also utilizing these tests to survey local populations of deer ticks and determine the prevalence of the pathogens responsible for Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis.

Various developmental stages of the deer tick Ixodes scapularis; female (left), male (middle) and nymph (left) are shown.