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Around four or five of those bite humans - that would be, in the Eastern States, Ixodes holocyclus, the paralysis tick, most commonly, and in Western Australia, it would be the kangaroo tick, Amblyomma triguttatum. NARRATIONUsing advanced genetic sequencing, they can identify all the bacteria at once from traces of their DNA.

And my research has focused on characterising the bacterial communities which occur naturally inside those ticks. The second area you'd expect to find them is down in the midgut, which is at the back end of the tick. Mark Horstman So, really, the majority of the animal is a gut? Alex Gofton We're able to amplify one piece of DNA from many bacterial species and get millions of sequences back.

For people suffering from Lyme-like disease, its a controversial mystery that science has so far been unable to resolve. Group member 1I say I have Lyme disease, people will say, "Well, that doesn't even exist here, so..just must be making it up."NARRATIONIt's a controversial mystery that science has so far been unable to resolve. NARRATIONMost native mammals, like this echidna, have their own kind of tick.

For the first time, microbes inside native Aussie ticks are being probed, leading to new discoveries which may reveal the causes of unexplained illnesses in the future. Dr Andrew Fuller I do not think we have any proof that Lyme disease exists in Australia. Mark Horstman Have we underestimated the threat from ticks? Each species of Aussie tick carries its own bacterial ecosystem - a microbiome.

And could they pose a greater risk to public health than we thought? Amazingly, the microbiomes of most Australian ticks have never been studied before.It will take new science on a national scale to hunt for the one or many pathogens that ticks may carry. NARRATIONProfessor Peter Irwin's lab may be small, but the discoveries here have huge potential to transform our knowledge about the impacts of ticks on public health.Mark Horstman Ticks carry the greatest diversity of disease-causing microbes of any arthropods that suck blood.NARRATIONFor bacteria to have any chance of being transmitted by a tick bite, they need to be at the pointy end. Mark Horstman So, if you're looking for pathogenic bacteria in a tick, where do you start? So it really allows us to, instead of looking at one bacteria, to look at the whole diversity in one analysis. A bacterial microbiome is actually unique for each tick species.Alex Gofton This is the internal morphology of a tick that has been sectioned in half, essentially. NARRATIONPowerful computers crunch the data and colour-code the bacterial DNA. NARRATIONWith so many different bacteria in each tick, they've had to develop a new innovation - how to see beyond the more common species that mask previously unseen ones.

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