Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lyme Disease Bacterium Came From Europe Before Ice Age

Date:
June 30, 2008
Source:
Wellcome Trust
Summary:
The bacterium responsible for Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, originated in America, or so researchers thought. Now, however, scientists has shown that this bug in fact came from Europe, originating from before the Ice Age.

The blacklegged tick Ixodes pacificus, a known vector for Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogen responsible for Lyme disease.
Credit: CDC/ James Gathany; William Nicholson

Researchers at the University of Bath have discovered that a bacterium that causes Lyme disease originated in Europe, rather than in North America as previously thought.

Related Articles


The bacterium responsible for Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, originated in America, or so researchers thought. Now, however, a team from the University of Bath has shown that this bug in fact came from Europe, originating from before the Ice Age.

By understanding the origins of the bacterium and how it has evolved so far researchers hope to be able to predict how it will continue to develop, and so find ways to prevent its spread.

In the study, researchers from the University of Bath and colleagues from the UK and USA studied the evolutionary history of the bacteria by looking at the sequences of eight so-called 'housekeeping genes', which evolve very slowly. They analysed 64 different samples taken from infected humans and ticks in Europe and America.

In all, 33 different combinations of the housekeeping genes were found. The study's findings appear to show that Borrelia burgdorferi originated in Europe but that the species has been present in North America for a long time. The researchers suggest its re-emergence there in the 1970s occurred after the geographic territory of the tick that carries the bacteria expanded, for example through the restoration of woodland.

Lyme disease is a growing problem in Europe, Asia and - in particular - North America, where it is now the most common vector-borne disease. The disease was named after Old Lyme, Connecticut, the site of a number of cases in the 1970s. There is no vaccine for the infection, which can cause arthritis and problems with the nervous system and heart if left untreated.

Image: The blacklegged tick Ixodes pacificus, a known vector for Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogen responsible for Lyme disease; CDC/ James Gathany; William Nicholson

References

Margos G et al. MLST of housekeeping genes captures geographic population structure and suggests a European origin of Borrelia burgdorferi. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2008;105(25):8730-8735


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Wellcome Trust. "Lyme Disease Bacterium Came From Europe Before Ice Age." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629142805.htm>.
Wellcome Trust. (2008, June 30). Lyme Disease Bacterium Came From Europe Before Ice Age. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629142805.htm
Wellcome Trust. "Lyme Disease Bacterium Came From Europe Before Ice Age." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629142805.htm (accessed March 4, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Australian Museum Shares Terrifying Goblin Shark With the World

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) The Australian Museum has taken in its fourth-ever goblin shark, a rare fish with an electricity-sensing snout and &apos;alien-like&apos; jaw. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) takes a look. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Hormone Could Protect Against Diabetes And Weight Gain

New Hormone Could Protect Against Diabetes And Weight Gain

Newsy (Mar. 4, 2015) A newly discovered hormone mimics the effects of exercise, protecting against diabetes and weight gain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prince William Calls for Unified Effort Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Prince William Calls for Unified Effort Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Mar. 4, 2015) Britain&apos;s Prince William pledges to unite against illegal wildlife trade on the final day of his visit to China. Rough cut - no reporter narration Video provided by Reuters
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