Genetic Manipulation of Borrelia Spp.

  • Dan DrecktrahEmail author
  • D. Scott SamuelsEmail author
Part of the Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology book series (CT MICROBIOLOGY, volume 415)


The spirochetes Borrelia (Borreliella) burgdorferi and Borrelia hermsii, the etiologic agents of Lyme disease and relapsing fever, respectively, cycle in nature between an arthropod vector and a vertebrate host. They have extraordinarily unusual genomes that are highly segmented and predominantly linear. The genetic analyses of Lyme disease spirochetes have become increasingly more sophisticated, while the age of genetic investigation in the relapsing fever spirochetes is just dawning. Molecular tools available for B. burgdorferi and related species range from simple selectable markers and gene reporters to state-of-the-art inducible gene expression systems that function in the animal model and high-throughput mutagenesis methodologies, despite nearly overwhelming experimental obstacles. This armamentarium has empowered borreliologists to build a formidable genetic understanding of the cellular physiology of the spirochete and the molecular pathogenesis of Lyme disease.



We thank Ben Adler for thoughtful reading of the manuscript and Darrin Akins, Jim Battisti, Melissa Caimano, Sherwood Casjens, George Chaconas, Christian Eggers, Frank Gherardini, Mike Gilbert, Laura Hall, Chris Li, Meghan Lybecker, Rich Marconi, Motaleb, Steve Norris, Justin Radolf, Sandy Raffel, Patti Rosa, Tom Schwan, Jon Skare, Phil Stewart, Kit Tilly, and Frank Yang for useful discussions about the genetic manipulation of Borrelia. Our laboratory is supported by National Institutes of Health grant AI051486 (to D.S.S.).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA

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