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ActivitiesAssociate Professor Takano wins the Sasa Award of the Japan Society of Medical Entomology and Zoology 2015.10.19

 Ai Takano, Associate Professor (tenure track) of Pathogenetic and Preventive Veterinary Science at the Joint Faculty of  Veterinary Medicine, has won the Sasa Award of the Japan Society  of Medical Entomology and Zoology, and received the award at the 67th Annual Meeting of the Japan Society of Medical Entomology and Zoology held in Kanazawa University on March 27.The Sasa Award of the Japan Society of Medical Entomology and Zoology was established for the purpose of encouraging research by young reserchers and recognizing their achievements, and is given to the first author of an outstanding original article that was published in Medical  Entomology and Zoology in the past two years .The award was given in recognition of reserch published in 2014 entitled “Construction of a DNA database for ticks collected in Japan: application of molecular identification based on the mitochondrial16S rDNA gene.”

 Ticks are known to transmit the pathogens for Lyme disease, Japanese spotted fever, etc. when they bite humans. Since the diseases transmitted diffeer depending on the species of the tick, for medical diagnosis and treatment, it is necessary to know accurately which species of ticks inhabit which areas. Therefore, the local public health laboratory of each region is conducting investigations into the regional habitats of ticks. A popular method for identifying sampled ticks is by morphological means, such as identification from the pattern on the body surface, and from the presence of absence of eyes. However, the wide range of morphological variations which a single species of tick can have depending on sex and growth stage and defects in the insect’s body make it difficult to identify a tick by morphological means. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop a mehod for identifying ticks by genetic means. In this research , a DNA database of  16S rRNA (mt-rrs) DNA sequences from tick mitochondria which can be used for molocular identification was constructed phylogenetic analysis based on the database was performed, and the sensitivity of the molecular identification method was clearfied. Using the constructed DNA database, 39 species out of  the 47 species of ticks found in Japan were analyzed, and 36 species (92.3%) were verified to be identifiable by their DNA sequende.

The DNA database that has been constructed is a compilation of a collection Associate Professor Takano has been gathering, with the help of many researchers across Japan, since she was a student. Since one species of tick may have multiple genotypes, over 100 genotypes have been registered on GenBank, which is open to the public. This research achievement has a high public profile and is a response to potential risk which is all around us, and further developments are expected.

From the left: Senior Fellow Takada (Medical Zoology, Pathological Sciences,Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Fukui),Associate Professor Takano

Tick DNA database contributes to society