Endocrinology of Tick Reproduction: A New Perspective

Project: Research project

Project Details


Ticks transmit many human and animal diseases. Despite this critical importance in disease transmission, our understanding of the hormones in ticks and their role in development, reproduction and disease transmission is in its infancy. For example, only one hormone has been studied in ticks, a hormone that regulates egg production. Ticks feed exclusively on blood throughout their entire life and, because of this unusual life style, they have developed unique, but poorly understood, ways to control their development. The major goal of this research is to identify the hormones produced by the tick brain and its associated glands and at the same time to examine the role of the brain and genes expressed by the brain in the regulation of female egg development and reproduction. This project includes studies aimed at understanding how the male uses protein secretions in its semen to regulate the female brain and initiate female egg production. These studies will be conducted by examining global gene expression in female tick brains and identifying the genes in male ticks that encode for pheromones that regulate female development. The broad impacts of this work include (a) increasing our understanding of tick biochemistry and function as compared to insects and related organisms; (b) greatly advancing our understanding of tick hormones, pheromones, brain function and the evolution of blood feeding; (c) providing brain gene microarrays to the scientific community that can be used to further advance the study of neurobiology in ticks and other organisms; and (d) provide new methods for the control of ticks and tick borne diseases. This interdisciplinary project will be conducted between two universities and involve four different research laboratories providing a unique training experience for undergraduate/graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in molecular biology, genomics, proteomics and physiology. In addition, these labs have an established track record of technology transfer to the private sector and the development of practical solutions to human problems.

Effective start/end date8/15/077/31/10


  • National Science Foundation: $540,265.00
  • National Science Foundation: $540,265.00


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