Laboratory of Molecular Ecology of Vectors and Pathogens

Our group studies molecular and cellular factors involved in the mechanism of pathogen transmission by ticks. Lyme borreliosis spirochetes, as well as tick-borne encephalitis virus, are the main focus of research, with respect to protein-carbohydrate interactions, and their interaction with the inner environment of tick Ixodes ricinus. Molecular ecology of Lyme borreliosis and tick-borne encephalitis, including modern techniques of pathogen diagnosis, has been elaborated.

Selected publications:
Schnettler E., Šťastná H., Watson M., Sharma M., Sterken M., Obbard D., Lewis S., Mcfarlane M., Bell-Sakyi L., Barry G., Weisheit S., Best S., Kuhn R., Pijlman G., Chase-Topping M., Gould E., Grubhoffer L., Fazakerley J., Kohl A. (2014) Induction and suppression of tick cell antiviral RNAi responses by tick-borne flaviviruses Nucleic Acids Research 42: 14.
DOI: 10.1093/nar/gku657
Crowder Chris D., Carolan Heather E., Rounds Megan A., Hönig V., Mothes B., Haag H., Nolte O., Luft Ben J., Grubhoffer L., Ecker David J., Schutzer Steven E., Eshoo Mark W. (2014) Prevalence of Borrelia miyamotoi in Ixodes ticks in Europe and the United States. Emerging Infectious Diseases 20: 1678-1682.
DOI: 10.3201/eid2010.131583
Strnad M., Elsterová J., Schrenková J., Vancová M., Rego R. O. M., Grubhoffer L., Nebesářová J. (2015) Correlative cryo-fluorescence and cryo-scanning electron microscopy as a straightforward tool to study host-pathogen interactions Scientific Reports 5: 18029.
DOI: 10.1038/srep18029
Rudenko N., Golovchenko M., Vancová M., Clark K., Grubhoffer L., Oliver J. (2016) Isolation of live Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato spirochetes from patients with undefined disorders and symptoms not typical for Lyme diseases Clinical Microbiology and Infection 22: 267.e9-267.e15.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cmi.2015.11.009
Rudenko N., Golovchenko M., Clark K., Oliver J., Grubhoffer L. (2016) Detection of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto in Amblyomma americanum ticks in the southeastern United States: the case of selective compatibility. Emerging Microbes and Infection 5: e48.
DOI: 10.1038/emi.2016.45

All publications (204)

Current research projects

ANTIGONE, ANTIcipating the Global Onset of Novel Epidemics, FP 7, 2011-2016

ANTIGONE, ANTIcipating the Global Onset of Novel Epidemics, is a European research network of fourteen academic partners from seven European Member states. ANTIGONE aims to identify the key factors that render zoonotic pathogens prone to cross the species barrier and gain efficient transmissibility among humans. It brings together a team of top researchers working on a broad range of important zoonotic viral and bacterial pathogens, with multi-disciplinary backgrounds from the human and veterinary medical field, as well as other relevant disciplines. ANTIGONE is funded by the European Commission (FP7 Cooperation, project number 278976) and runs from 1 November 2011 to 31 October 2016.

POSTICK, FP7 Marie Curie project, 2010-2013

POSTICK: Post-graduate training network for capacity building to control ticks and tick-borne diseases

In the context of global warming and globalisation, ticks and tick-borne diseases (TTBD) are expected to emerge, with an increasing risk for animals and humans. POSTICK aims to design new effective control strategies for TTBD diseases through understanding the mechanisms of tick-host-pathogen interactions regarding: (a) pathogen diversity, survival and transmission, modulation of host immune response and tick survival and (b) identification of host-pathogen-tick molecules for designing anti-tick vaccine and blocking pathogen transmission.

This will be achieved through this strategic post-graduate training programme, coordinated by the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU, Munich, Germany), consisting of 7 main research projects (each with 2 sub-projects) and complementary training modules (seminars, workshops, symposiums and a conference), combining the facilities and complementary expertise of European institutions (5 universities, 1 research institute and 1 industrial participant) and associated partners (in Brazil and Israel). In each main project are working 2 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) who develop individual sub-projects, aiming to tackle a common task.

Three specific POSTICK research topics are solved in our laboratory by 2 PhD and one MSc student: Functional analysis of defence peptides complex from Ixodes ricinus (Miray Tonk), Glycoprotein analysis of Ixodes ricinus salivary glands (Annika Brinkmann), Cellular and molecular characterization of Ehrlichia spp. grown in tick cell lines (Alejandro Cabezas) (in co-operation with University of Edinburgh, UK).

In the frame of POSTICK workshops and meetings POSTICK - Spring School on Tick Biology and Ecology was organized by our lab in 2011 in Ceske Budejovice.

Tick-borne encephalitis virus-host interaction, GA CR, 2012-14

Tick-borne encephalitis virus represents an important human pathogen, causing severe infection of the central nervous system. Although an enormous e ort was made to understand pathogenesis of this disease, numerous questions remain unresolved. The proposed project is oriented on the research of selected aspects aff ecting life cycle of the virus and its interaction with the host on the molecular, cellular and organismal level.

Main goals of the project are to bring new ndings in the area of antiviral proteins, capping of TBEV genome, regulation of viral protein synthesis by the host cell, and viral protein glycosylation in TBEV invaded host cells, viral replication and virulence. The experiments will be carried out in vitro as well as in vivo using a broad array of experimental techniques. Our results will provide a closer insight in the basic aspects of pathogenesis of TBE and it will deepen our understanding of flaviviruses generally and will benefi t the successive advanced research of severe flaviviral infections.

Antimicrobial peptides in the immune system vectors of the Borrelia burgdorferi, GA CR, 2011-2013

Full name of the project: Antimicrobial proteins involved in the immune system of Borrelia burgdorferi competent and incompetent vectors: searching for a borreliacidal factor

Project aims: Isolation and characterization of novel anti-microbial proetins/peptides involved in the immune responses of tick against Lyme disease spirochetes infection

Duration of the project: 2011-2013

Financed by: Grant Agency of the Czech Republic

Principal investigator: Prof. RNDr. Libor Grubhoffer, CSc.

Spoluřešitel: RNDr. Václav Čeřovský, CSc., Ústav organické chemie a biochemie AV ČR, v. v. i.

Finished projects:

C4SYS (Centre for Systems Biology) 2016-2022

C4SYS is a priority infrastructure project on the national roadmap, and currently builds on close collaboration between the Academy of Sciences (Institute of Nanobiology and Structural Biology, Nove Hrady, Institute of Microbiology, Prague, Global Change Research Center, Brno), the University of South Bohemia and Masaryk University, Brno.


Biology Centre CAS
Institute of Parasitology
Branišovská 1160/31
370 05 České Budějovice

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