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We focus on molecular host-pathogen and vector-pathogen interactions. Vector-borne pathogens have evolved in close relationship with their vectors and hosts for thousands of years. Thus, these clinically and veterinary important microbes have acquired mechanisms to manipulate the cellular machinery, of both the vector and the mammalian host. We are interested in investigating how vector-borne pathogens influence host and vector cellular responses, such as immune responses, cellular trafficking, and vesicle secretion.

We are also interested in how tick-borne pathogens sense environmental changes when moving between the vector and the mammalian host. For example, members of the Anaplasmataceae change their gene expression, leading to an altered protein profile during their development within the mammalian host when compared to the vector. We want to use these bacteria as a model to understand what clues intracellular bacteria use to detect changes within their environment. This knowledge could lead to the development of interventions to disrupt the life cycle of tick-borne pathogens and prevent disease in humans and animals.

Additionally, we study epigenetics of ticks of veterinary and medical importance. We are investigating the differences in DNA methylation between tick populations and how that affects gene expression in response to environmental changes. We are also investigating differences in miRNA populations within tick saliva and their effect on wound and host immune responses.

Finally, we are investigating how pathogen transmission affects immune responses at the bite site and the potential use of extracellular vesicles as vaccine candidates against ticks and tick-borne pathogen transmission.

Our lab uses state of the art biomolecular technology along with both classic and innovative molecular techniques to investigate vector-pathogen-host interactions. We collaborate with other labs and cores, both within and outside Texas A & M University. Our data is collected using personnel with a high level of expertise. We strive to attain high levels of reliability, so our results are held to the highest scientific standards.


We are a diverse group of scientists from Honduras, Puerto Rico, the United States, and Brazil working together to understand how ticks feed, how they respond to infection, and how tick-borne pathogens manipulate their environment. Our goal is to define molecular mechanism by which different tick species aid pathogen establishment and find alternative approaches to prevent tick-borne pathogen transmission.

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