With tenacity befitting their subject, an international team of nearly 100 researchers toiled for a decade and overcame tough technical challenges to decipher the genome of the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis).
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, contributed primary support to the research, which appears in the online, open-access journal Nature Communications.
“Ticks spread more different kinds of infectious microbes to people and animals than any other arthropod group,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “The spiral-shaped bacterium that causes Lyme disease is perhaps the best known microbe transmitted by ticks; however, ticks also transmit infectious agents that cause human babesiosis, anaplasmosis, tick-borne encephalitis and other diseases. The newly assembled genome provides insight into what makes ticks such effective disease vectors and may generate new ways to lessen their impact on human and animal health.”