Ticks are considered among the most dangerous arthropod vectors of disease agents to both humans and animals worldwide. Lateralization contributes to biological fitness in many animals, conferring important functional advantages, therefore studying its role in tick perception would critically improve our knowledge about their host-seeking behavior. In this research, we evaluated if Ixodes ricinus (L.) (Ixodiidae) ticks have a preference in using the right or the left foreleg to climb on a host. We developed a mechatronic device moving a tuft of fox skin with fur as host-mimicking combination of cues. This engineered approach allows to display a realistic combination of both visual and olfactory host-borne stimuli, which is prolonged over the time and standardized for each replicate. In the first experiment, the mechatronic apparatus delivered host-borne cues frontally, to evaluate the leg preference during questing as response to a symmetrical stimulus. In the second experiment, host-borne cues were provided laterally, in an equal proportion to the left and to the right of the tick, to investigate if the host direction affected the questing behavior. In both experiments, the large majority of the tested ticks showed individual-level left-biased questing acts, if compared to the ticks showing right-biased ones. Furthermore, population-level left-biased questing responses were observed post-exposure to host-mimicking cues provided frontally or laterally to the tick. Overall, this is the first report on behavioral asymmetries in ticks of medical and veterinary importance. Moreover, the mechatronic apparatus developed in this research can be exploited to evaluate the impact of repellents on tick questing in highly reproducible standardized conditions.
|Titolo:||Behavioral asymmetries in ticks â Lateralized questing of Ixodes ricinus to a mechatronic apparatus delivering host-borne cues|
|Data di pubblicazione:||Being printed|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo su Rivista/Article|