Pitfalls in tick and tick-borne pathogens research, some recommendations and a call for data sharing

Agustín Estrada-Peña, Aitor Cevidanes, Hein Sprong, Javier Millán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


An understanding of the relationships of ticks and tick-borne pathogens can only be achieved by integrating data from multiple studies. The publication of raw material is a necessary step for wide-area meta-analyses and study design, data collection and reporting require harmonization. This is an opinion paper, not a consensus position, and is open to debate. This work reflects our view about how data should be communicated in mainstream journals. We indicate rules that should be observed in recording weather data, to avoid serendipitous correlations between the density of ticks and climate variables and recommend the inclusion of raw data in reports. We stress the need for standardized methods to collect ticks that cannot be obtained by standard flagging. The reporting of infection rates of pathogens in ticks should avoid conclusions based on pure molecular findings in feeding ticks. Studies demonstrating the vectorial capacity of ticks should not be supported only by molecular surveys of feeding ticks. Vacuous conclusions about vectorial or reservoir status based solely on the finding of genomic material of a pathogen should be discouraged. We stress that phylogenetic studies based on random selection of sequences from GenBank are unsuitable. We firmly support the development of a dedicated server of curated sequences of ticks and pathogens as a standard for future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number712
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • GenBank
  • Guidelines
  • Prevalence reporting
  • Tick-surveys
  • Tick-transmitted pathogens
  • Ticks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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