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Infection with pathogens can induce changes in host behaviors in ways that indirectly impact important community interactions. In this study, I used wild white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) that were naturally infected with a zoonotic pathogen, the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi via vectors (ticks), and subsequently treated with either an anti- Borrelia burgdorferi vaccine that cleared the spirochete infection or a sham vaccine that did not. I employed mouse wheel-running activities to assess the potential effect of infection with the tick-borne agent of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi on physical performance of one of its major reservoir hosts, the White-footed Mouse. I investigated whether individual vaccination status in mice would influence mouse physical performance in terms of wheel-running activity in the lab. Mouse activity, as measured by total distance run in the wheel-running chambers, did not differ between mice vaccinated against Borrelia burgdorferi and sham vaccinated mice. The potential impacts of mouse mass, botfly infestation, and tick burden were also evaluated: the total distance run of a group of mice treated with the anti-Borrelia burgdorferi vaccine was compared with that of a control group treated with the sham vaccine. Mass and botfly infestation had a significant effect on mouse wheel running activities, but only for mice that were sham vaccinated. Overall, no impact of Borrelia burgdorferi infection was detected on white-footed mice. These results, in combination with knowledge on mouse’s role in Lyme disease transmission, provide important information for understanding the interaction between white-footed mice and Lyme disease spirochetes.
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Gao, YuanYuan, "The Effects of Lyme Disease Spirochete Infection on Wheel Running Behavior of White-Footed Mice" (2015). Senior Projects Fall 2015. 13.