Co-feeding transmission facilitates strain coexistence in Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease agent

States, S, Huang, C, Davis, S, Tufts, D and Diuk-Wasser, M 2017, 'Co-feeding transmission facilitates strain coexistence in Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease agent', Epidemics, vol. 19, pp. 33-42.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

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Title Co-feeding transmission facilitates strain coexistence in Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease agent
Author(s) States, S
Huang, C
Davis, S
Tufts, D
Diuk-Wasser, M
Year 2017
Journal name Epidemics
Volume number 19
Start page 33
End page 42
Total pages 10
Publisher Elsevier BV
Abstract Coexistence of multiple tick-borne pathogens or strains is common in natural hosts and can be facilitated by resource partitioning of the host species, within-host localization, or by different transmission pathways. Most vector-borne pathogens are transmitted horizontally via systemic host infection, but transmission may occur in the absence of systemic infection between two vectors feeding in close proximity, enabling pathogens to minimize competition and escape the host immune response. In a laboratory study, we demonstrated that co-feeding transmission can occur for a rapidly-cleared strain of Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease agent, between two stages of the tick vector Ixodes scapularis while feeding on their dominant host, Peromyscus leucopus. In contrast, infections rapidly became systemic for the persistently infecting strain. In a field study, we assessed opportunities for co-feeding transmission by measuring co-occurrence of two tick stages on ears of small mammals over two years at multiple sites. Finally, in a modeling study, we assessed the importance of co-feeding on R 0 , the basic reproductive number. The model indicated that co-feeding increases the fitness of rapidly-cleared strains in regions with synchronous immature tick feeding. Our results are consistent with increased diversity of B. burgdorferi in areas of higher synchrony in immature feeding - such as the midwestern United States. A higher relative proportion of rapidly-cleared strains, which are less human pathogenic, would also explain lower Lyme disease incidence in this region. Finally, if co-feeding transmission also occurs on refractory hosts, it may facilitate the emergence and persistence of new pathogens with a more limited host range.
Subject Biological Mathematics
Keyword(s) Borrelia
Co-feeding
Coexistence
Ixodes scapularis
Lyme disease
Pathogen diversity
DOI - identifier 10.1016/j.epidem.2016.12.002
Copyright notice © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
ISSN 1755-4365
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