Watching Lyme disease-causing microbes move in ticks

November 16, 2009

Lyme disease is caused by the microbe Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted to humans from feeding ticks.

Justin Radolf and colleagues, at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, have now visualized the microbe moving through the feeding tick and determined that it has a biphasic mode of dissemination. These data provide new insight into the transmission process, detailed understanding of which is essential if new methods of preventing human infection with the Lyme disease-causing microbe are to be developed.

In this study, the midguts and salivary glands of ticks before, during, and after feeding were isolated, and the live Borrelia burgdorferi microbes imaged in real time. In the first phase of dissemination, replicating microbes formed networks of nonmotile organisms that moved by adhering to the cells lining the tick midgut. In the second phase of dissemination, the microbes became motile invasive organisms that ultimately entered the salivary glands. These data challenge the conventional viewpoint that Lyme disease-causing are always motile within ticks and that this drives their dissemination.

More information: Live imaging reveals a biphasic mode of dissemination of Borrelia burgdorferi within ticks, view this article at:

Source: Journal of Clinical Investigation

Explore further: Lone Star tick migrates to Long Island

Related Stories

Researchers track Lyme disease spirochetes

June 20, 2008

Microbiologists at the University of Calgary have demonstrated the first direct visualization of the dissemination of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. This real-time, three-dimensional look at ...

Researchers to study lyme-like illness in Texas

August 15, 2008

Tao Lin, D.V.M., and Steven J. Norris, Ph.D., both with the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, have been named grant recipients of the Norman Hackerman Advanced ...

Scientists identify potential key to Lyme disease

February 9, 2009

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified a protein that may help give Lyme disease its bite. The findings suggest that the bacterial protein, which aids in transporting the metal manganese, is essential ...

Recommended for you

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...

How cells in the developing ear 'practice' hearing

November 25, 2015

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular ...

How cells 'climb' to build fruit fly tracheas

November 25, 2015

Fruit fly windpipes are much more like human blood vessels than the entryway to human lungs. To create that intricate network, fly embryonic cells must sprout "fingers" and crawl into place. Now researchers at The Johns Hopkins ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.