project leader:  Lise Grøva      ph+47 404 80 525

Tick-borne fever (TBF) is one of the main challenges in Norwegian sheep farming during the grazing season. The project TICKLESS focuses on identification of robust animals, natural tick enemies and understanding interactions between vegetation, climate and host animals on the tick population.

TBF is caused by the bacteria Anaplasma phagocytophilum and transmitted by the tick Ixodes ricinus. Climate change, changes in land use and an increase in the deer population are factors expected to increase the population of ticks. Ticks and tick-borne pathogens are particularly widespread in the coastal areas of Norway and farmers are experiencing large losses of lambs due to TBF.

Robust animals: Genetic variation in robustness is shown in many species to numerous diseases. Knowledge on within and between breed variation in robustness to tick-borne infection has potential to reduce challenges with TBF through breeding. This project aims at identify genetic robust animals related to robustness on tick-infested pastures.

Natural tick enemies: Fungal pathogens, predatory mites and ants are all thought to be important tick killers in nature and may be used in conservational biological control strategies. Knowledge on natural enemies of I. ricinus and development of biological control strategies has a great potential for reducing challenges with tick-borne diseases. Based on Metarihizium fungi the project will study the effect of this fungi on mortality of ticks in field.

Tick population: The I. ricinus tick population and frequency of tick-borne pathogens interacts with climate, vegetation and host conditions and there is a need for knowledge on these interactions. Understanding reservoir and host mechanisms that cause TBF in sheep, as well as other tick-borne agents, is important in order to implement preventive management strategies. Fieldstudies will give data that will illustrate parts of these interactions.

Financing: Research funding from the industry and industry fund (Jordbruksavtalen (JA) og Fondet for forskningsavgift på landbruksprodukter (FFL)), as well as funding from Møre and Romsdal Council og County Governor in Møre og Romsdal. (NFR prosjectno 207737) 


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IMG_0017 sheep.jpg

sau-lam- torjulvågen (2).JPG

Ixodes ricinus nymph. Photo Karin Westrum.jpg

Ixodes ricinus mating. Photo Karin Westrum.jpg

Ixodes ricinus female.  Photo Karin Westrum.jpg

3. Ixodes ricinus female infected with  Metarhizium, early inf. Photo Karin Westrum.jpg



Sheep on tick pasture. Photo Steffen Adler, Bioforsk

Sheep on tick infested pasture. Photo: Peggy Haugnes, Bioforsk.

Ixodes ricinus nymph. Photo Karin Westrum, Bioforsk

Ixodes ricinus mating. Photo: Karin Westrum, Bioforsk

Ixodes ricinus female. Photo: Karin Westrum, Bioforsk

Ixodes ricinus female infected with Metarhizium sp, late inf. Photo Karin Westrum, Bioforsk

Lambs with joint inflamation, a common secondary infection caused by TBF. Photo Lise Grøva, Bioforsk

Fully grown adult tick (Ixodes ricinus) attached to lamb. Photo Lise Grøva, Bioforsk.