Large-Scale Comparative Analyses of Tick Genomes Elucidate Their Genetic Diversity and Vector Capacities

Cell. 2020 Sep 3;182(5):1328-1340.e13. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.07.023. Epub 2020 Aug 18.


Among arthropod vectors, ticks transmit the most diverse human and animal pathogens, leading to an increasing number of new challenges worldwide. Here we sequenced and assembled high-quality genomes of six ixodid tick species and further resequenced 678 tick specimens to understand three key aspects of ticks: genetic diversity, population structure, and pathogen distribution. We explored the genetic basis common to ticks, including heme and hemoglobin digestion, iron metabolism, and reactive oxygen species, and unveiled for the first time that genetic structure and pathogen composition in different tick species are mainly shaped by ecological and geographic factors. We further identified species-specific determinants associated with different host ranges, life cycles, and distributions. The findings of this study are an invaluable resource for research and control of ticks and tick-borne diseases.

Keywords: genetic diversity; genome; hematophagy; metagenome; tick; tick-borne pathogen; vector capacity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Disease Vectors
  • Genetic Variation / genetics*
  • Host Specificity / genetics
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / microbiology*
  • Ticks / genetics*