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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 24;8(6):e67129. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067129. Print 2013.

Preliminary assessment of microbiome changes following blood-feeding and survivorship in the Amblyomma americanum nymph-to-adult transition using semiconductor sequencing.

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Department of Forensic and Investigative Genetics, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, Texas, USA.


The physiology of ticks supports a diverse community of non-pathogenic and pathogenic organisms. This study aims to initially characterize the microbial community present within colony-reared Amblyomma americanum using PCR of the variable region 5 of the 16S rRNA gene followed by semiconductor sequencing and classification of sequence data using the Ribosomal Database Project and MG-RAST analysis tools. Comparison of amplicon library datasets revealed changes in the microbiomes in newly engorged nymphs, newly-molted adults, and aged adults, as well as ticks exposed to different environmental conditions. These preliminary data support the concept that microbe survivorship and diversity are partially dependent upon environmental variables and the sequence of blood feeding, molting, and aging. The maintenance and/or emergence of pathogens in ticks may be dependent in part on temporal changes in the microbial community of the tick microbiome.

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