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
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:
Nathalie Huber | Universität Zürich
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