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Last update: May 2021

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Xenobio-TICK: Sequencing the tick transcriptome for development of new acaricides

On a global scale, ticks are the ectoparasites that have the most economic impact on livestock farming, have negative consequences on animal health and transmit numerous pathogens. In Europe, the impact of tick-borne diseases in cattle is more limited but their importance is reinforced by their zoonotic nature. Since livestock are prized by adult ticks (including the most common species in Europe, Ixodes ricinus, which also bites humans) for their blood meal, they are important hosts for human vector-borne diseases (including Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne disease in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere).

Until now, tick control has relied mainly on the use of chemical acaricides. These molecules can have negative effects on humans, livestock and ecosystems. In addition, resistance to acaricides has already been observed in ticks in different parts of the world. The emergence of resistance in ticks promotes the use of higher doses of acaricides and aggravates the problems associated with the unintended effects of acaricides. There is therefore a need to develop new acaricides that will target ticks very specifically and thus limit their unintended negative effects.

Objective of the Xenobio-TICK project
  • Deep sequencing of the tick transcriptome in order to identify and characterize new neuroreceptor genes, as divergent as possible from those of insects, which will be used as tick specific targets for the development of new acaricides.
  • After being identified using bioinformatics tools, these new neuroreceptors will be functionally characterized and their sensitivity to certain molecules will be studied. The genetic variability of these receptors will also be estimated in order to estimate the potential durability of the acaricide targeting this receptor. Although high-throughput screening of a large number of molecules is beyond the scope of Xenobio-TICK, this project, by making available functional and expressible neuronal receptors in heterologous systems, will be a major step forward in the development of automated screening of molecules targeting these receptors.

The project should enable the development of a collaboration with industrial partners for the development of new acaricides with high efficacy and less unintended effects.

The Xenobio-TICK project is an Institut Carnot France Futur Elevage project (ICF2E).

UMR ISP (centre Inra Val de Loire)

USC LBLGC (Laboratoire de Biologie des Ligneux et des Grandes Cultures, centre Inra Val de Loire)