Infection of immature Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) by membrane feeding

Jonathan D. Oliver, Geoffrey E. Lynn, Nicole Y. Burkhardt, Lisa D. Price, Curtis M. Nelson, Timothy J. Kurtti, Ulrike G. Munderloh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


A reduction in the use of animals in infectious disease research is desirable for animal welfare as well as for simplification and standardization of experiments. An artificial silicone-based membrane-feeding system was adapted for complete engorgement of adult and nymphal Ixodes scapularis Say (Acari: Ixodidae), and for infecting nymphs with pathogenic, tick-borne bacteria. Six wild-type and genetically transformed strains of four species of bacteria were inoculated into sterile bovine blood and fed to ticks. Pathogens were consistently detected in replete nymphs by polymerase chain reaction. Adult ticks that ingested bacteria as nymphs were evaluated for transstadial transmission. Borrelia burgdorferi and Ehrlichia muris-like agent showed high rates of transstadial transmission to adult ticks, whereas Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Rickettsia monacensis demonstrated low rates of transstadial transmission/maintenance. Artificial membrane feeding can be used to routinely maintain nymphal and adult I. scapularis, and infect nymphs with tick-borne pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-415
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of medical entomology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors 2016.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum
  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Ehrlichia muris
  • Ixodes scapularis
  • Rickettsia monacensis


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