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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Research Project #437417

Research Project: Ticks and Human Health

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32000-012-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 28, 2019
End Date: Oct 27, 2024

Objective 1: Develop novel approaches and improve upon existing technologies for surveillance of ticks of medical importance. Objective 2: Develop novel approaches and improve upon existing technologies for control of ticks of medical importance. Objective 3: Conduct fundamental research on established and invasive ticks to understand the roles of tick species in disease transmission.

Molecular techniques will be either modified or developed to identify field specimens of four species of medically-important ticks, the pathogens they transmit, and remnant blood meals (from previous hosts) in questing (“flat”) ticks, collected by conventional means (dragging). Though not a pathogen, per se, mammalian meat allergy as it relates to ticks will also be investigated by existing and developed immunological means in an effort to understand this malady and to limit its impact on people. New tick repellents and formulations will be developed and the mechanism of repellent detection by ticks characterized. This will involve the optimization of an in vitro feeding system for ticks, using a silicone-based feeding system. The use of electrophysiological techniques to characterize tick responses to repellents and antifeedants will also be investigated using state-of-the-art equipment. A project to limit the negative impact of Lyme disease in human will be studied using tracking devices attached to deer (a host of ticks) and rodents (carriers of the Lyme Disease pathogen and other pathogens)The nature of the pathogen will be identified using molecular techniques initially with collaborators, and subsequently, in-house. Additionally, we will conduct molecular identification and artificial feeding studies with a newly-invasive parthenognetic tick and determine any pathogens this tick may acquire and transmit to humans.