Within-vector diversity

Ticks may be infected with multiple strains of the Lyme disease bacteria, which differ in transmissibility and the harm they pose to humans.  We examined the genomic diversity of Borrelia burgdorferi within individual field-collected ticks.  We found that 70% of ticks are infected with multiple strains of the Lyme disease bacteria, indicating that humans may be exposed to and infected with multiple bacterial strains from a single tick bite. We also find evidence that the Lyme disease bacteria is evolving in response to the immune defenses of its natural hosts (including rodents and birds).

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I am continuing to use pathogen deep sequencing data to explore the within-host ecology of the Lyme disease bacteria in collaboration with Leonid Chindelevitch and Maria Diuk-Wasser.