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Dr. Alan Barbour and his team have analyzed the mitochondrial DNA from wild white-footed mice, Peromyscus leucopus. These mice are the natural host for Lyme and other tickborne bacteria, and serve as a reservoir from which ticks acquire pathogens. However, the mice themselves do not become sick despite being infected. This work focuses on mitochondria, the organelle responsible for generating energy in living cells. By sequencing and analyzing mitochondrial DNA and its transcription, Dr. Barbour’s group has provided the groundwork to determine how mice can tolerate infection, compared to lab mice and humans who do suffer symptoms. In addition, because mitochondrial DNA is inherited directly from the mother, genetic studies to understand Peromyscus subspecies geographic distribution and vectorborne disease dynamics can now be undertaken.

Published in Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-54389-3
PubMed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31772306