Scientists Sequence the Tick Genome

Posted on February 10, 2016

Ixodes scapularis tick

Scienitsts have sequenced the genome of a tick. The species sequenced (Ixodes scapularis) is one that bites humans and is known for spreading Lyme disease.

The researchers say the tick genome is large and contains many duplicative elements. The large size combined with the redundancy made sequencing more difficult.

R. Michael Roe, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Entomology at NC State and a co-author of the paper, says, "Repetition makes assembly more challenging."

Roe also pointed out some significant differences between tick genomes and insect genomes. He says, "We know from previous work that, at the genome level, ticks do not control their development like insects. For example, ticks don't have a juvenile hormone that insects have. That hormone is responsible for color, molt patterns, migration activity and many other functions in insects. That's important because some of the safer insecticides are based on upsetting the juvenile hormone balance."

A research paper on the genome sequencing was published here in the journal, Nature Communications.

Photo: Anirudh Dhammi, NC State University