Of ticks, mice and men: understanding the dual-host lifestyle of Lyme disease spirochaetes

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2012 Jan 9;10(2):87-99. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2714.


In little more than 30 years, Lyme disease, which is caused by the spirochaete Borrelia burgdorferi, has risen from relative obscurity to become a global public health problem and a prototype of an emerging infection. During this period, there has been an extraordinary accumulation of knowledge on the phylogenetic diversity, molecular biology, genetics and host interactions of B. burgdorferi. In this Review, we integrate this large body of information into a cohesive picture of the molecular and cellular events that transpire as Lyme disease spirochaetes transit between their arthropod and vertebrate hosts during the enzootic cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / microbiology
  • Animals, Wild / parasitology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / genetics
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / physiology*
  • Cell Wall / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / physiology
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ixodes / microbiology*
  • Ixodes / physiology
  • Larva / microbiology
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology*
  • Lyme Disease / parasitology
  • Lyme Disease / transmission
  • Mice / microbiology*
  • Mice / parasitology
  • Nymph / microbiology