Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Female gluttony blamed on male tick

06.04.2004


A certain species of tick has learned the secret to staying slim--by remaining virgins. Female ticks who mate will drink 100 times their weight in host blood, whereas virgins aren’t so gluttonous says a University of Alberta researcher who has discovered a protein that may offer clues to a $10 billion global tick problem.



"What happens is that a female will remain attached to a host, eating slowly and waiting to be fertilized," said Dr. Reuben Kaufman from the U of A’s Faculty of Science. "If she does copulate, the seminal fluid contains an engorgement factor protein which acts as a signal to tell her to complete engorgement. Within 24 hours of copulation she will increase another 10 times her unfed weight."

Female ticks require six to 10 days to engorge fully. The feeding cycle consists of three phases: a preparatory phase when she attaches herself to the skin; a slow phase, during which the female feeds to 10 times her unfed weight and the third phase after copulation when the female increases her weight a further 10-fold. The virgin tick, however, rarely exceeds the critical weight necessary for laying some eggs.


Kaufman and Brian Weiss, who was a doctoral student in the Department of Biological Sciences at the time of this research, produced a protein--recAhEF-- from feeding-induced genes in the male gonad of the African cattle tick. This research is published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. By injecting that protein into virgin ticks they could stimulate the tick to grow to full engorgement. Armed with that knowledge, the researchers then immunized a rabbit against recAhEF and found that about 75 per cent failed to feed beyond the critical weight, whereas mated ticks feeding on a normal rabbit engorged fully.

"We want to use these proteins as a basis of a vaccine," said Kaufman. "If we can vaccinate cattle against this protein, or voraxin as we have called it, then they would be significantly protected against ticks. Not only would it control the tick problem--which is a $10 billion problem globally--but it would inhibit the disease ticks transfer as well.

"Ticks affect the growth of calves and they affect milk production, even with minor infestations."

Currently, the major control mechanism used to treat ticks is pesticides, which often come with ecological problems and may affect the meat, said Kaufman.


Kaufman’s research was funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grant.

Phoebe Dey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New technique for in-cell distance determination
19.03.2019 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Dalian Coherent Light Source reveals hydroxyl super rotors from water photochemistry
19.03.2019 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

Im Focus: Revealing the secret of the vacuum for the first time

New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum

For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...

Im Focus: Sussex scientists one step closer to a clock that could replace GPS and Galileo

Physicists in the EPic Lab at University of Sussex make crucial development in global race to develop a portable atomic clock

Scientists in the Emergent Photonics Lab (EPic Lab) at the University of Sussex have made a breakthrough to a crucial element of an atomic clock - devices...

Im Focus: Sensing shakes

A new way to sense earthquakes could help improve early warning systems

Every year earthquakes worldwide claim hundreds or even thousands of lives. Forewarning allows people to head for safety and a matter of seconds could spell...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Levitating objects with light

19.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New technique for in-cell distance determination

19.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Stellar cartography

19.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>