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Unveiling the oxidative metabolism of Rhipicephalus microplus (Acari: Ixodidae) experimentally exposed to entomopathogenic fungi


Rhipicephalus microplus is an important tick in tropical regions due to the high economic losses caused by its parasitism. Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana are well-known entomopathogenic fungi that can afflict R. microplus ticks. The development of new targets and strategies to control this parasite can be driven by studies of this tick’s physiology. Recently, it was reported that when exposed to adverse physiological conditions, ticks can activate fermentative pathways, indicating transition from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism. Nevertheless, the precise mechanism by which entomopathogenic fungi influence R. microplus metabolism has not been clarified, limiting understanding of the tick-fungus association. Thus, the present study aimed to evaluate the effect of infection of ticks by M. anisopliae and B. bassiana on the amount of selected carboxylic acids present in the hemolymph, enabling increased understanding of changes previously reported. The results showed preservation in the concentrations of oxalic, lactic, and pyruvic acids in the hemolymph 24 and 48 h after dropping from cattle; while there were variations in the concentration of these carboxylic acids after infection of female ticks to M. anisopliae and B. bassiana. Significant increases were observed in the concentration of oxalic and lactic acids and significant reduction of pyruvic acid for both observation times (24 and 48 h) after infection by entomopathogenic fungi. These results indicate that B. bassiana and M. anisopliae infection alters the basal metabolism of R. microplus females, resulting in the activation of fermentative pathways.

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This study was supported in part by the Conselho Nacional para o Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) and Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ).

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Correspondence to Vinícius Menezes Tunholi-Alves.

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Tunholi-Alves, V.M., Tunholi Alves, V.M., da Silva, J.P. et al. Unveiling the oxidative metabolism of Rhipicephalus microplus (Acari: Ixodidae) experimentally exposed to entomopathogenic fungi. Parasitol Res 115, 3683–3688 (2016).

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  • Metarhizium anisopliae
  • Beauveria bassiana
  • Lactic acids
  • Pyruvic acid
  • Oxalic acids