Rampaging around on a forest playground, sweating on a keep-fit track, grilling sausages in a BBQ area – these innocent activities always have an element of danger involved – namely the fear of ticks. To try and free us from this danger, researchers at the University of Hohenheim are developing biological methods to eradicate ticks.
The fungi turned out to be particularly promising tick predators. “In practice, we can also combine the fungi with other tick enemies,” explained the parasitologist in a reference to the ticks’ complex biology with multi-year developmental stages. “Our fungi and mini-wasps are very effective against nymph-stage ticks. Roundworms are best for killing adult ticks.”With their research into biological tick control, the researchers are covering new ground, not only because of the complex biology of the tick but also because of the complex relationships between the various organisims involved. “The combination of two organisms in their natural environment such that one of the two destroys the other is a highly complex process,” said Prof. Dr. Mackenstedt. “We also have to take great care not to damage other species.”Following promising laboratory investigations, the biologists now have plans to investigate fungi, worms and other organisms in the field. “The first phase of this investigation was made possible through the Landesstiftung Baden-Württemberg foundation. We now hope to find further funding that will enable us to take the concept to application.”