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Ciência Rural

Print version ISSN 0103-8478On-line version ISSN 1678-4596

Cienc. Rural vol.45 no.11 Santa Maria Nov. 2015


Press Release

Study demonstrates that R. microplus tick uses odor to differentiate its hosts

Lígia Ferreira Borges

1Universidade Federal de Goiás - DMIPP rua 235, sn, setor universitario Goias Goiania - 74605090 Brazil. T: 6235211574

Researchers at the Federal University of Goiás in Goiás, Brazil, have shown that Rhipicephalus microplus uses the odor of cattle to differentiate sensitive and resistant hosts. The article was published in the journal Ciência Rural, v.45, n.11, of November 2015.

The study aimed to assess whether the tick uses the odor produced by cattle as a way to differentiate them, as he prefers to parasitize cattle of European origin breeds like the Holstein Friesian than zebu like Nellore. For that, the researchers conducted a test on sixteen tick larvae exposed to the odor of five Holstein Friesian cattle, five Nelores, hexane (negative control) and 2-nitrophenol (positive control). The researchers found that the highest responses were for 2-nitrophenol and Holstein Friesian odor. The lowest was for the solvent and was statistically similar to the odor of Nellore.

According to the researcher Lígia Borges, there are two hypotheses to explain how the tick differentiates the odor of the two races: the Nelore cattle cannot produce attractive compounds for the tick that are produced by the Holstein Friesian or the Nelore cattle produce repellent compounds that inhibit the parasite. "If the second hypothesis is confirmed, it would be possible to use these repellent compounds to mask the attraction of susceptible animals," she said.

The research breaks new ground by showing that the tick can avoid parasitize the toughest animals, using his odor technique. As reported Lígia, to date studies of these parasites concentrated on evaluating the resistance of cattle to tick through the host immune response. There is an inversion of the logic when choosing to observe the response of ticks, which can be used as a tool in controlling this parasite. "This host choice by means of odor behavior is biologically advantageous for the tick, since we know that the choice of the host determines the parasite development," she concludes.

Researcher: Ligia Ferreira Borges E-mail:

Creative Commons License This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.