Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Lopez, Job E.

Committee Member

Varela-Stokes, Andrea S.

Committee Member

Goddard, Jerome

Committee Member

Thornton, Justin A.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Campus Access Only


Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Biological Sciences


Relapsing fever Borrelia are transmitted through saliva of argasid ticks. Given the 10 to 60 minute long bloodmeal, we characterized the rapidity of Borrelia turicatae transmission from their vector Ornithodoros turicata. Infection rates were compared in mice when cohorts of ticks fed to repletion on animals in which groups of O. turicata were removed 15 seconds after attachment. Infection was evaluated by examining the blood by dark field microscopy, quantitative PCR, and serological responses generated against B. turicatae. Scanning electron microscopy was also performed on cryofractured tick salivary glands to determine spirochete localization. Dissemination of B. turicatae into murine blood was evaluated by removing the bite site after ticks engorged. Our findings indicate that B. turicatae is localized in the lumen of salivary gland acini of O. turicata and transmission to and dissemination in the mammal occur shortly after tick attachment and do not require a complete bloodmeal.