Effects of Sex, Life Stage, and Specific Blood Meals on Microbiome of Starved Ornithodoros turicata

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2022-05

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Brown, Austin R.

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Abstract

Ticks carry and transmit more disease agents than any other arthropod vector. The composition of the microbiome within ticks may influence this ability, but many factors that influence their microbial composition remain to be elucidated. In this study, next generation sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA gene amplicons was used to assess the bacterial microbiome composition of Ornithodoros turicata, an Argasid soft tick known to vector several pathogens. Using field-collected ticks housed under laboratory conditions, the impact of blood meal source, sex, life stage, and time since last feeding on the microbiome composition was investigated. Of the variables under investigation, blood meal source had the most significant impact on bacterial microbiome composition. These results shed light on the microbial composition of understudied argasid ticks, and suggest that previous host feeding may potentially influence disease vector competence.

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