By Alexis Steele, Biological Sciences; Joshua Benoit, University of Cincinnati; Sam Bailey, University of Cincinnati; Kennan Oyen, University of Cincinnati
Advisor: Joshua Benoit
Abstract: Alexis Steele, Sam Bailey, Kennan Oyen and Joshua B. Benoit Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221 USA Ticks are ectoparasites that affect thousands to millions of humans and animals each year. These pests are vectors of diverse pathogens that can lead to devastating diseases in the hosts they parasitize. Being broadly distributed, ticks encounter a plethora of biotic and abiotic stressors. Although the influence of stressful temperatures, humidity, and pathogenic infections have been previously studied in ticks, a holistic synthesis of tick stress biology is lacking in the current literature. We compiled and reviewed several studies that investigate the influence of both biotic and abiotic stressors on tick biology. Abiotic stressors that are discussed in this paper are heat shock, dehydration, starvation, oxidative stress, pesticide exposure, and water/humidity stress. The biotic stressors reviewed in this paper are pathogens that invade the tick's body. Examples of these stressors in ticks include Anaplasma from the parasite rickettsial, Babesia which causes babesiosis, and Borrelia burgdorfei which is the causal agent of Lyme disease. To elucidate upon the molecular effects of different stressors on tick biology, RNA-seq data for American dog ticks after exposure to various stressors was compared with weighted gene correlation network analysis (WGCNA) was utilized in order to further analyze the differences in expression across multiple stressors. This analysis to establish gene groups with correlated expression profiles. In conclusion, our analysis identified both biotic and abiotic stressors that have molecular effects on tick.