Ticks feed on the blood of vertebrates, but this diet is low in B vitamins, which are vital for cellular metabolism. A study published earlier this year shows that African soft ticks (Ornithodoros moubata) supplement their diet with vitamin B from bacterial symbionts.
Olivier Duron at the Université de Montpellier in France, and their colleagues, fed ticks antibiotics to kill the resident bacteria, and found they were unable to survive to adulthood. But feeding them oral vitamin B supplements was enough to save them.
They found that the bacteria has lost many of its original genes since becoming a symbiont, but its genes for B vitamin synthesis have kept their function. The authors say that this type of symbiotic relationship is likely present in all tick species.
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