Dr. Kurt Vandegift and his grant collaborator Dr. Amit Kapoor at Nationwide Children’s Hospital just published a review in Viruses entitled: The Ecology of New Constituents of the Tick Virome and Their Relevance to Public Health. This paper takes a close look into the phylogenies of newly discovered viruses of ticks and points to future avenues of research that will allow a better understanding their potential to influence global public health. A close relative of one of the viruses Vandegrift and Kapoor have been studying was just identified as infecting humans in China.
The goal of the NSF EEID grant that funded this work is to outline total viral diversity in rodents and their tick vectors and then address if the virome (the community of viruses) can have functionality akin to what is seen with the microbiome. This work represents a significant step towards this goal. The identification of host ranges and a better understanding of the community ecology of these tick viruses will not only be very helpful in preventing their transmission to humans, but will also identify animal species that can be subsequently used to develop informative animal models for the studies of both novel and known tick viruses.
Synopsis written by Kurt Vandegrift
Published by Ellen Brandell
Figure caption: A phylogenetic tree from the paper illustrates the Alongshan virus which was recently shown to infect humans in China (Fig. 1 in text).
Main image: Bullseye rash indicative of tick-borne illness. Credit: WedMD.
Kurt J. Vandegrift & Amit Kapoor
The Ecology of New Constituents of the Tick Virome and Their Relevance to Public Health
Vandegrift and Kapoor. 2019. Viruses 11(6): 529.