About this Research Topic
Ticks are efficient vectors for many pathogenic agents including bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Bacterial tick-borne diseases are numerous and have substantial impact on human and animal health. However, current knowledge on prevalence, diversity and distribution is limited and the clinical relevance is fraught with difficulties in recognition and diagnosis because of the lack of specific symptoms. The advent of accurate molecular diagnostic methods has allowed for the confirmation of single and mixed natural infections in a broad range of tick, animal, and human samples. In addition to vectoring pathogenic bacteria, ticks are known to host diverse endosymbiotic bacteria which are highly significant for several reasons. In particular, these microbes participate in many tick biological processes including ﬁtness, nutrition, development, reproduction, defense against environmental stress, immunity, and transmission of tick-borne pathogens. Studies exploring tick associations with complex microbial communities have revealed key insights into the successful role of ticks as vectors. In addition to the endogenous tick-microbial system, an obvious part of the microbial community can be acquired from the environment and likely have an impact on diverse metabolic pathways, stimulating microbial alliances, and host functions. Further exploration of tick-microbiome-pathogen networks needs to be in the spotlight of ongoing research and is the focus of this special topic.
Current studies on tick-borne bacteria focus on two broad aspects: i) the epidemiology of pathogenic and endosymbiotic tick-borne bacteria, and ii) characterization of the microbiome and tick-microbiome-pathogen interactions of a given tick species. For the first aspect, improving specific detection, molecular screening, potential risk factors, and genetic characterization of animal and zoonotic tick-borne bacteria are crucial to create new strategies for control programs. For the second aspect, metaomics based sequencing techniques for microbial community description including targeted 16S rRNA sequencing, metagenomics, and metatranscriptomics, are powerful tools for addressing all these questions. Future directions should further intensively (i) create molecular methods for more accurate identification of pathogenic and endosymbiotic bacteria, and (ii) describe relationships between the tick microbiome (diversity and composition) with a functional understanding of molecular events at the tick-microbiota-pathogen interface. One potential benefit is the identification of new microbial targets that can be used to design paratransgenic ticks for the control and prevention of tick infestations and tick-borne diseases.
This Research Topic welcomes submissions in the broad subject area of tick-borne bacteria. Specifically, submissions in the fields of (i) diagnosis, epidemiology and phylogeny of pathogenic and endosymbiotic tick-borne bacteria, and (ii) tick microbiota exploration are welcome.
Studies may include, but are not limited to:
• The epidemiology of pathogenic and endosymbiotic tick-borne bacteria.
• The development of novel methods for specific detection and improved genetic characterization of pathogenic and endosymbiotic tick-borne bacteria.
• Investigations of microbial community structure and function from ecologically diverse tick species.
• Coinfections (bacterial, viral and protozoal) in ticks.
• The microbial intraspecific and interspecific variability.
• Microbe-microbe synergies and direct effects on the success of pathogen colonization through cooperation and competition processes.
• Mechanisms underlying and molecular events occurring at the tick-microbial-pathogen interface.
• The identification of microbial targets or microbial components and the potential use to design paratransgenic ticks.
Keywords: ticks, bacteria, tick-borne, pathogenic, endosymbiotic
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.