Genetic Variation in Disease-Vectoring Ticks


The American dog tick Dermacentor variabilis and the Lone Star tick Amblyomma americanum are both widespread in the Eastern US and both are vectors of a variety of human and animal diseases. The outcome of infection by any particular disease agent vectored by either species of tick is variable. Our goal is to understand genetic variation among these tick species to determine whether variation in the ticks might explain the variety of infection outcomes.

We will use genome-wide SNP data to assess genetic diversity within natural populations of these tick species and then investigate whether population genetic structure of the tick vectors affects their ability to vector disease agents.