Fighting ticks on cellular level

13 November 2017

Researchers from the University of Queensland and James Cook University have teamed with beef producers to look at improving tick resistance in cattle.

The programs will look at the role exosomes play in naturally tick resistant animals.

Exosomes are small spherical vesicles that are made by every cell in a cow's body and are transported throughout the body in blood. They're basically the taxi cabs of the mammalian cardiovascular system and carry proteins from one blood cell to another.

The fact that they can pass through the membrane of the blood cells means they influence a mammal's immune system.

Scientists hope they can find exosomes that don't spread the pathogens left after a tick feeds on a beast.
Ticks on a brahmann cow 
Professor Murray Mitchell from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at The University of Queensland and said developing an effective and fast method to identify cattle with resistant exosomes would make herd selection easier.

"If successful, the flow-on effects of this project for the beef industry will be saving millions of dollars in fighting against cattle ticks," Prof Mitchell said.

Some cattle are naturally able to prevent ticks from infestation while at the same time ticks are developing a resistance to chemical control methods.

On average, Australian beef producers lose about $160 million annually to stock loss and poor carcase weight associated with tick poisoning while dipping and cleaning costs are a drain on a farmer's bottom line.

Tick born pathogens reduce fertility and immune function, they damage hides and present a risk to human health as well as the cattle they feast on.

If the research is successful it can be applied to other livestock industries.

South Burnett Times, Kingaroy QLD  by Michael Nolan from: