Lyme disease is caused by infection with the spirochete pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi, which is maintained in nature by a tick-rodent infection cycle. A tick-borne murine model has been developed to study
Lyme disease in the laboratory. While naíve ticks can be infected with B. burgdorferi by feeding them on infected mice, the molting process takes several weeks to months to complete. Therefore, development of more rapid and efficient tick infection techniques, such as a microinjection-based procedure, is an important tool for the study of
Lyme disease. The procedure requires only hours to generate infected ticks and allows control over the delivery of equal quantities of spirochetes in a cohort of ticks. This is particularly important as the generation of B. burgdorferi infected ticks by the natural feeding process using mice fails to ensure 100% infection rate and potentially results in variation of pathogen burden amongst fed ticks. Furthermore, microinjection can be used to infect ticks with B. burgdorferi isolates in cases where an attenuated strain is unable to establish infection in mice and thus can not be naturally acquired by ticks. This technique can also be used to deliver a variety of other biological materials into ticks, for example, specific antibodies or double stranded RNA. In this article, we will demonstrate the microinjection of nymphal ticks with in vitro-grown B. burgdorferi. We will also describe a method for localization of
Lyme disease pathogens in the tick gut using confocal immunofluorescence microscopy.