Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wild mice have natural protection against Lyme borreliosis

04.04.2013
Like humans, mice can become infected with Borrelia. However, not all mice that come into contact with these bacteria contract the dreaded Lyme disease: Animals with a particular gene variant are immune to the bacteria, as scientists from the universities of Zurich and Lund demonstrate. Wild mice are the primary hosts for Borrelia, which are transmitted by ticks.

Springtime spells tick-time. Lyme borreliosis is the most common tick-borne disease in Switzerland: around 10,000 people a year become infected with the pathogen. The actual hosts for Borrelia, however, are wild mice. Like in humans, the pathogen is also transmitted by ticks in mice.

Interestingly, not all mice are equally susceptible to the bacterium and individual animals are immune to the pathogen. Scientists from the universities of Zurich and Lund headed by evolutionary biologist Barbara Tschirren reveal that the difference in vulnerability among the animals is genetic in origin.

Protective gene variant
Tschirren and colleagues examined wild mice for signs of a Borrelia infection in a large-scale field study. Borrelia afzelii – the scientific name for the bacteria – feed on mouse blood. The researchers discovered that mice with a particular variant of the antigen receptor TLR2 were around three times less susceptible to Borrelia. “The immune system of mice with this receptor variant recognizes the pathogen better and can trigger an immune response more quickly to destroy the Borrelia in time,” says Tschirren. Infected mice exhibit similar symptoms to humans – especially joint complaints. Consequently, in the wild infected mice probably do not survive for very long and weakened animals soon fall victim to foxes and birds of prey.
Arms race between mice and Borrelia
The protective gene variant is advantageous for its carriers and, according to the researchers, gradually becoming prevalent in the mouse population. Nonetheless, it is unlikely that all mice will one day be resistant to Borrelia. “The increasing resistance in the host is bound to lead to adaptations in Borrelia,” predicts Tschirren. “We can observe the evolutionary adaptation through the rearmament in mice and the pathogen.”

People also have the antigen receptor TLR2, but not the resistant gene variant observed in mice. Whether the evolutionary arms race between mice and Borrelia will have repercussions for people remains to be seen. According to Tschirren, the bacterium does not necessarily have to become more aggressive for humans.

Literatur:
Barbara Tschirren, Martin Andersson, Kristin Scherman, Helena Westerdahl, Peer R. E. Mittl, and Lars Råberg. Polymorphisms at the innate immune receptor TLR2 are associated with Borrelia infection in a wild rodent population. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 20130364. April 3, 2013. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0364
Contact:
Prof. Barbara Tschirren
Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
University of Zurich
Phone +41 44 635 47 77
E-mail barbara.tschirren@ieu.uzh.ch

Nathalie Huber | Universität Zürich
Further information:
http://www.uzh.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New insight into a central biological dogma on ion transport
26.06.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht UK chemistry researchers develop catalyst that mimics the z-scheme of photosynthesis
26.06.2017 | University of Kentucky

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers

26.06.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

New research reveals impact of seismic surveys on zooplankton

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Correct connections are crucial

26.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>