Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Female Ticks Have Market On Gluttony

Date:
April 29, 2007
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
Sex makes you fat. If you're a female tick, that is. The "truly gluttonous" female ixodid tick increases her weight an astounding 100 times her original size after she mates, so scientists investigated what it is about copulation that triggers such a massive weight gain.

Unfed and engorged tick.
Credit: Professor Frans Jongejan, University of Utrecht, Netherlands, and University of Pretoria, Republic of South Africa.

Sex makes you fat. If you're a female tick, that is.

The "truly gluttonous" female ixodid tick increases her weight an astounding 100 times her original size after she mates, so a University of Alberta researcher investigated what it is about copulation that triggers such a massive weight gain.

In a new research paper published in the Journal of Insect Physiology, Dr. Reuben Kaufman, from the Department of Biological Sciences, suggests several differences between the ixodid tick and her blood-sucking counterparts that help explain the weight gain. Using mosquitoes, tsetse flies, bed bugs and kissing bugs as comparison, Kaufman found that no one compared to this female African tick when it came to weight gain following mating.

Kaufman suggests that the ixodid tick displays a significant difference in lifestyle from the other insects and that it is adaptive for the virgin to remain small before mating.

First, this species of tick remain on the host for a number of days, rather than minutes. "In this family of ticks, mating takes place on the host," says Kaufman. "Most other insects mate before or after their brief blood meal --the two acts are totally separate, but not with these ticks."

Female ticks require six to 10 days to engorge fully. First, she attaches herself to the skin. Then she feeds to 10 times her unfed weight and finally, after copulation she increases her weight a further tenfold.

On the other hand, the virgin tick rarely exceeds the critical weight necessary for laying eggs. It will hang on to the host for weeks, waiting for a male to find her, says Kaufman. If the virgin gains too much weight and is groomed off the host, it won't reattach itself to another host and continue feeding. "However, if she remains small she still has a chance to reattach itself to another host--hopefully infested with some feeding males-- continuing feeding and potentially mate," says Kaufman. "If a male eventually copulates with her, she will engorge normally and then be able to lay eggs. This is one reason why it might be adaptive for the virgin to remain small until mated."

In terms of what causes the female to become so engorged, Kaufman says that when a tick does copulate, the male's seminal fluid contains two engorgement factor proteins that together act as a signal to tell her to complete engorgement.

Kaufman's future research will look toward the potential to produce an anti-tick vaccine. Some experiments have already suggested that normal, mated ticks are unable to fully engorge when feeding on a host that has been immunized against the engorgement factor proteins. If these observations can be confirmed and extended, an effective anti-tick vaccine to protect livestock and pets could be on the horizon.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Female Ticks Have Market On Gluttony." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070427092016.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2007, April 29). Female Ticks Have Market On Gluttony. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070427092016.htm
University of Alberta. "Female Ticks Have Market On Gluttony." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070427092016.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins