Understanding the Metabolic Capabilities of the Ixodes scapularis Microbiome. - Darin Shrewsberry
Ticks hosts for a large variety of microbes. These microbes may be parasitic, endosymbionts, or facultative in the tick. Some of these microbes can synthesis nutrients that the tick cannot synthesis itself and may providethese to the tick. The goal of this study is to understand what the microbiome as a whole is capable of producing and how these products may be utilized via the tick. Long term goals include understanding the difference between the metabolic capabilities while ticks are unfed or fed, whether there are differences in this capabilities in colony ticks and wild ticks, and what happens to the capabilities when pathogens are present in the microbiome. We also aim to understand what metabolic pathways are conserved between these scenarios.
Iron's Role in Rickettsial Infection of Eukaryotic Hosts. - Joseph Dinoto
Rickettsia are obligate intracellular pathogens that are responsible for Rocky Mountian Spotted Fever and Epidemic Typhus. A recent genomic analysis suggests that rickettsia are among the group of organisms that require iron for life. This study will focus on the role that iron plays in the ability of Rickettsia to infect eukaryotic host cells. The goal of the study is first to determine whether iron has a role in infection, and secondarily to compare the regulation of putative iron-related genes throughout the infection process.