Open J Public Health | Volume 4, Issue 3 | Research Article | Open Access

Morphological Abnormalities in Blacklegged Tick, Ixodes scapularis, Initiated by Environmental Contaminant

John D Scott1*, Nguyen Nguyen2, Jaclyn TA McKeown3 and Evgeny V Zakharov2,3,4

1Upper Grand Tick Centre, Fergus, Ontario, Canada 2Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding, Biodiversity of Ontario, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada 3Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada 4Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

*Correspondance to: John D Scott 

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Environmental pollutants cause teratogenic abnormalities in ectoparasites and their hosts. These contaminants are consumed or absorbed, and often invisible causing deformities in arthropods, including ticks. Teratogen in arthropods arises as physiological and morphological change, and often halts proper metabolic function. During normal bird band operations, we collected a replete tick from an American Robin, Turdus migratorius, and the fully engorged larva molted to an unfed nymph. The larva was normal, but the subsequent nymph was deformed. Consequently, we could not identify the unusual specimen with standard taxonomy, so we took microphotographs and employed DNA barcoding by means of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 gene. Based on molecular analysis, we confirmed the aberrant specimen was a blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis. Our finding collaborates that songbirds can pass teratogenic compounds to ticks during a blood meal, and cause environmental abnormalities in ticks.


Blacklegged tick; Ixodes scapularis; Teratogen; Songbirds; American robin; DNA barcoding; Molecular identification; Environmental contaminant; Canada


Scott JD, Nguyen N, McKeown JTA, Zakharov EV. Morphological Abnormalities in Blacklegged Tick, Ixodes scapularis, Initiated by Environmental Contaminant. Open J Public Health. 2022;4(3):1039..

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