Applications of artificial membrane feeding for ixodid ticks

Julia González, Mathew Bickerton, Alvaro Toledo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Ticks are obligatory hematophagous ectoparasites that feed on a large variety of vertebrates. In the laboratory, animals (mainly mice and rabbits) are used to maintain tick colonies. However, the use of animals to rear ticks can be expensive and requires dedicated animal facilities. In addition, research institutions are committed to the principle of 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement), which encourages the use of alternatives to animals when possible. The development of artificial membrane systems has provided an alternative to animals, at least for some tick species. Over the years, different modifications in artificial feeding systems have led to new applications, including acaricide testing, tick-pathogen interaction, and novel approaches to study tick physiology. Although artificial membrane feeding still has some limitations, the method can provide numerous advantages, including the standardization of acaricide treatments under controlled conditions, an alternative to animals for tick rearing, and reduction of cost associated with animals and animal housing facilities. In this review, we summarized the evolution of tick feeding membranes and their applications over time, explaining the modifications incorporated to study tick physiology, tick-pathogen interactions, and acaricide testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105818
JournalActa Tropica
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


  • Artificial feeding
  • Feeding
  • Rearing
  • Tick
  • Tick-borne pathogens


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