Mariah Angel Cuyson

San Francisco State University

“Investigating the impact of host blood meal identity on Ixodes pacificus microbiome using a multi-species analysis of small mammals and reptiles”

Lyme disease, caused by the pathogenic spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi and vectored by the tick species Ixodes pacificus on the West Coast, is one of the most commonly reported tick-borne diseases in the United States, posing a major public health risk to humans and wildlife. Previous research has investigated the key natural drivers in tick microbiome variation and its role within pathogen transmission dynamics of Lyme disease, suggesting the significant role of host blood meal identity in modulating the I. pacificus microbiota and its influence on pathogen acquisition. The objective of this study is to further investigate the impact of host blood meal identity on I. pacificus microbiome composition and richness by analyzing a variety of small mammal and reptile species varying in reservoir host competency of B. burgdorferi. Engorged I. pacificus larvae burdens collected from important I. pacificus host blood meal sources along seven oak woodland habitats in northern California, were preserved and analyzed using Next-Generation Sequencing of the hypervariable V3 – V4 regions of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene for microbial community identification and characterization.


My research investigates the impact of host blood meal identity on the Ixodes pacificus, the vector for Lyme disease within the western United States, and their microbiome composition and species richness by analyzing a variety of important host blood meal sources such as small mammals and reptiles.

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