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Nat Commun. 2016 Feb 9;7:10507. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10507.

Genomic insights into the Ixodes scapularis tick vector of Lyme disease.

Author information

  • 1Department of Entomology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.
  • 2Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginina 23529, USA.
  • 3Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA.
  • 4Department of Genetic Medicine and Development, University of Geneva Medical School, Geneva 1211, Switzerland.
  • 5Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Geneva 1211, Switzerland.
  • 6Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
  • 7The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, USA.
  • 8Centre for Respiratory Biology, UCL Respiratory Department, Division of Medicine, University College London, Rayne Building, 5 University Street, London WC1E 6JF, UK.
  • 9SaBio, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos, IREC-CSIC-UCLM-JCCM, Ronda de Toledo sn, Ciudad Real 13005, Spain.
  • 10Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University, 250 McElroy Hall, Stillwater, Oklahama 74078, USA.
  • 11Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, NIAID, Rockville, Maryland 20852, USA.
  • 12VectorBase/EMBL-EBI, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Cambridge CB10 1SD, UK.
  • 13Bioinformatics Core, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.
  • 14J. Craig Venter Institute, Rockville, Maryland 20850, USA.
  • 15Genome Sequencing and Analysis Program, Broad Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, USA.
  • 16Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA.
  • 17Departament de Genètica &Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat (IRBio), Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona E-08028, Spain.
  • 18Vascular Physiopathology, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares, Madrid 28029, Spain.
  • 19Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts 01605, USA.
  • 20Department of Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut 06030, USA.
  • 21Center for Integrative Genomics, Faculty of Biology and Medicine, University of Lausanne, Lausanne CH-1015, Switzerland.
  • 22Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology Program, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA.
  • 23Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA.
  • 24Department Biological Sciences, Markey Center for Structural Biology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.
  • 25Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA.
  • 26Department of Microbial Molecular Biology, Agricultural Genetic Engineering Research Institute, Giza 12619, Egypt.
  • 27Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA.
  • 28Department of Entomology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 66506, USA.
  • 29Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA.
  • 30Department of Neurosystems, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK.
  • 31Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.
  • 32Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA.
  • 33Department of Entomology, Center for Disease Vector Research, University of California, Riverside, California 92506, USA.
  • 34Department of Pathology, Cambridge Genomic Services, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QP, UK.
  • 35Department of Physiology, School of Medicine-CIMUS-Instituto de Investigaciones Sanitarias, University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela 15782, Spain.
  • 36Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona 08003, Spain.
  • 37Department of Biological Sciences, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California 91768, USA.
  • 38Parasitology Section, School of Chemistry &Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.
  • 39GeneCology Research Centre, Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Queensland 4556, Australia.
  • 40Department of Biology, Center for Functional and Comparative Insect Genomics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen DK-2100, Denmark.
  • 41Department of Microbiology, Immunology &Biochemistry, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee 38163, USA.
  • 42Cancer Genome Project, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton CB10 1SA, UK.
  • 43Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Immunology, University of Vigo, Vigo 36310, Spain.
  • 44Department of Entomology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.
  • 45Department of Medical Sciences, Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut 06518, USA.
  • 46Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland, School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.


Ticks transmit more pathogens to humans and animals than any other arthropod. We describe the 2.1 Gbp nuclear genome of the tick, Ixodes scapularis (Say), which vectors pathogens that cause Lyme disease, human granulocytic anaplasmosis, babesiosis and other diseases. The large genome reflects accumulation of repetitive DNA, new lineages of retro-transposons, and gene architecture patterns resembling ancient metazoans rather than pancrustaceans. Annotation of scaffolds representing ∼57% of the genome, reveals 20,486 protein-coding genes and expansions of gene families associated with tick-host interactions. We report insights from genome analyses into parasitic processes unique to ticks, including host 'questing', prolonged feeding, cuticle synthesis, blood meal concentration, novel methods of haemoglobin digestion, haem detoxification, vitellogenesis and prolonged off-host survival. We identify proteins associated with the agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis, an emerging disease, and the encephalitis-causing Langat virus, and a population structure correlated to life-history traits and transmission of the Lyme disease agent.

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