University of Nevada Researcher Wins US Fulbright Scholar Award to Study Cattle Tick

Photo of Researcher Monika Gulia-Nuss
University of Nevada, Reno Associate Professor Monika Gulia-Nuss

Nevada Today, John Seelmeyer (04.15.2024) reports, “University of Nevada, Reno researcher takes on fight against deadly cattle tick: Pioneering researcher wins highly competitive Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award for collaborative international research project.” Associate Professor Monika Gulia-Nuss has been awarded a US Fulbright Scholar Award to conduct research on ticks affecting cattle worldwide. Her work will take place in Uruguay.

A pioneering tick researcher working to help reduce the incidence of Lyme disease in humans will now be applying her research to discover effective ways to control the devastating impacts of the cattle tick (Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) annulatus and R. (B.) microplus). In the past decade, Gulia-Nuss’ lab has developed innovative tools to analyze and modify the ability of deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis, blacklegged ticks) to spread pathogens. Gulia-Nuss and her researcher husband, Andrew Nuss, an associate professor in the University of Nevada, Department of Agriculture, Veterinary & Rangeland Sciences, have found success in injection into deer tick embryos and possible genetic modification to control ticks. Their methods have already been implemented by many research labs around the world.

There are some challenges in translating this innovative technique to the cattle tick. The genome of the cattle tick is large and complex. The cattle tick genome is twice the size of the human genome and the genome has not yet been fully mapped. Her work will involve identifying genes of cattle ticks that could be targeted for genetic control or improved pesticides, and potentially the development of effective vaccines for cattle. 

The cattle tick is now found in the United States only along the southern border with Mexico, though it has established populations in nearly every tropical or subtropical region of the world where cattle industries exist. Uruguay is among the most impacted regions.

Gulia-Nuss, will be working closely with researchers in Uruguay to further develop her innovative methods of genetic tick control. The cattle industry here suffers from over $30 million in losses annually from various tick impacts. Cattle fever virus (bovine babesiosis) transmitted by the cattle tick leads to death in 90% of infected cattle. Damage to cattle skins from tick bites impacts the leather industry and tick-borne illness in cattle results in reduced milk production.

Fulbright US Scholar Awards are highly competitive with approximately 10% of applicants approved annually. These awards are designed to build collaboration between scholars in the United States and scholars worldwide. 

*LDA Note: Monika Gulia-Nuss, PhD, Assistant Professor, Howard Medical Sciences, Department of Biochemistry and molecular Biology, University of Nevada Presented “Generating Transgenic Ticks for Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases Management” at the 2018 LDA/Columbia Annual Conference.

For More Information: 

Read the Nevada Today Article

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