The junior research group "Tick-Borne Zoonoses" (TBZ) is engaged in research into the vector biology of ticks using the tick species Ixodes ricinus, which is widely distributed in Europe. This tick serves as a vector for zoonotic diseases such as Lyme borreliosis and early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE)
The pathogens transmitted by I. ricinus represent highly prevalent and relevant zoonotic pathogens that affect both human and animal hosts and which are demonstrably spreading more and more in Germany. The demonstration of biological mechanisms associated with pathogen acquisition, maintenance and transmission by ticks should lead to new paradigms in the control and prevention of tick-borne diseases. Furthermore, the 3V principle (avoidance, reduction and refinement) aims at minimising animal experiments.
Two subprojects are planned to study the vector biology of Ixodes ricinus:
- The establishment of CRISPR/Cas9 in I. ricinus ticks and tick cell lines for functional genome analyses,
- To continue studies on artificial feeding of I. ricinus and the use of this method for in vitro infection experiments with zoonotic pathogens.
The development of CRISPR/Cas9 in ticks offers new possibilities for the demonstration of gene functions. Genome editing in ticks such as I. ricinus is scientifically highly relevant and offers new possibilities to better investigate the transmission mechanisms of pathogens by ticks.
In addition, the development of a robust I. ricinus in vitro feeding method will provide an instrument with versatile applications, e.g. for pathogen transmission, tick physiology and drug research.
Ard Nijhof, DVM, Ph.D.
Freie Universität Berlin
Institute of Parasitology and tropical veterinary medicine
E- Mail: ard.nijhof(at)fu-berlin.de
Tel. +49 (0) 30 838 6232 6
Dr. Philipp Olias, Institut für Tierpathologie, Universität Bern
Dr. Lesley Bell-Sakyi, Institute of Infection and Global Health, University of Liverpool
Prof. Dr. Joppe Hovius, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Amsterdam
Dr. Boris Klempa, Institute of Virology, Slovak Academy of Sciences
Dr. Anna Obiegala, Institut für Tierhygiene und Öffentliches Veterinärwesen. Universität Leipzig
Prof. Stefanie Becker, Institut für Parasitologie, TiHo Hannover