Kathryn E. Reif

Assistant ProfessorKathryn Reif

B.A. 2004, Ohio Wesleyan University
MS.P.H. 2005, School of Public Health, Tulane University
Ph.D. 2009, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University
Post-doctoral Fellow 2014, College of Veterinary Medicine,
Washington State University
Post-doctoral Fellow 2016, Animal Disease Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, United
States Department of Agriculture
Phone: 785-532-5552
Email: kreif@vet.k-state.edu


My research interests revolve around vectors and vector-borne diseases, especially ticks and tick-borne diseases. I have studied several pathogens of veterinary and medical importance, including the tick-borne bacterial pathogens Francisella sp., Rickettsia sp. Anaplasma sp., and Borrelia sp.; the tick-borne protozoal pathogens Babesia sp. and Theileria sp.; the flea-borne pathogen Rickettsia felis; and, mosquito-borne West Nile virus.

My laboratory studies determinants of tick-borne pathogen infection in the tick vector. We are interested in identifying the mechanisms tick-borne pathogens employ to invade and adapt to tick cells, and the molecular cues driving pathogen replication and transmission from the tick to naïve mammalian hosts. Additionally, from the perspective of the tick, we are interested in understanding the molecular and physiological response of the tick during pathogen infection and ultimately how this response affects pathogen transmission. As infection a single pathogen species or genotype is rare, we are also interested in determining the complicating influence of co-infecting or resident microbiota, via intraspecific or interspecific competition, on pathogen establishment, maintenance and transmission from the tick vector.

Towards understanding the dynamic relationship between vector and pathogen, we are interested in several questions, which will be explored using both in vivo and in vitro models:

(1) How do tick-borne pathogens infect and persist in tick cells?

  1. Are there generalized mechanism of entry among tick-borne pathogens when invading tick cells?
  2. How do tick-borne pathogens subvert the vector in order to persist for extreme periods of time?

(2) How does competition affect pathogen acquisition and transmission?

  1. How does intraspecific competition affect pathogen transmission?
  2. How does interspecific competition affect pathogen transmission?
  3. How does pathogen fitness affect competition?
  4. Are the genetic determinants of pathogen fitness important during infection of the mammalian host similarly important during infection of the tick vector? If not, which has a greater impact of disease transmission?

Selected Publications

Noh SM, Dark MJ, Reif KE, Ueti MW, Kappmeyer LS, Scoles GA, Palmer GP, Brayton KA. 2016. Superinfection exclusion of the ruminant pathogen Anaplasma marginale in the tick vector is dependent on time between exposures to the strains. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. (In press)

Gall CA, Reif KE, Scoles GA, Mason KL, Mousel M, Noh SM, Brayton KA. 2016. The bacterial microbiome of Dermacentor andersoni ticks influences pathogen susceptibility. ISME J. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2015.266 [Epub ahead of print]

Ducken DR, Brown WC, Alperin DC, Brayton KA, Reif KE, Turse JE, Palmer GH, Noh SM 2015. Subdominant outer membrane antigens in Anaplasma marginale: conservation, antigencity, and protective capacity using recombinant protein. PLoS One. 10(6):e0129309

Reif KE, Palmer GH, Crowder DW, Ueti MW, Noh SM. 2014. Restriction of Francisella novicida genetic diversity during infection of the vector midgut. PLoS Pathogens 10(10):e1004499.

Sondgeroth, K.S., McElwain, T.F., Ueti, M.W., Scoles, G.A., Reif, K.E., Lau, A.O. 2014. Tick passage results in enhanced attenuation of Babesia bovis. Infect and Immun. 82(10):4426-34.

Bifano TD, Ueti MW, Esteves E, Reif KE, Braz GR, Scoles GA, Bastos RG, White SN, Daffre S. 2014. Knockdown of the Rhipicephalus microplus cytochrome c oxidase subunit III gene is associated with a failure of Anaplasma marginale transmission. PLoS One 9(5):e98614.

Awinda PO, Mealey RH, Williams LB, Conrad PA, Packham AE, Reif KE, Grause JF, Pelzel-McCluskey AM, Chung C, Bastos RG, Kappmeyer LS, Howe DK, Ness SL, Knowles DP, and Ueti MW. 2013. Serum antibodies from a subset of horses positive for Babesia caballi by competitive ELISA demonstrate a protein recognition pattern not consistent with infection. Clin. Vaccine Immunol. 20(11):1752-7.

Herndon DR, Ueti MW, Reif KE, Noh SM, Brayton KA, Agnes JT, Palmer GH. 2013. Identification of multilocus genetic heterogeneity in Anaplasma marginale subsp. centrale and its restriction following tick-borne transmission. Infect Immun. 81(5):1852-8.

Albarrak SM, Brown WC, Noh SM, Reif KE, Scoles GA, Turse JE, Norimine J, Ueti MW, Palmer GH. 2012. Subdominant antigens in bacterial vaccines: AM779 is subdominant in the Anaplasma marginale outer membrane vaccine but does not associate with protective immunity. PLoS One. 7(9):e46372.

Grasperge BJ, Reif KE, Morgan TD, Sunyakumthorn P, Bynog J, Paddock CD, Macaluso KR 2012. Susceptibility of inbred mice to spotted fever group Rickettsia parkeri. Infect Immun. 80(5):1846-1852.

Reif KE, Palmer GH, Ueti MW, Scoles GA, Margolis JJ, Monack DM, Noh SM. 2011. Dermacentor andersoni transmission of Francisella tularensis subsp. novicida reflects bacterial colonization, dissemination, and replication coordingated with tick feeding. Infect Immun. 79(12):4941-4946.

Reif KE, Keareny M, Foil LD, Macaluso KR. 2011. Acquisition of Rickettsia felis by cat fleas during feeding. Vector Borne and Zoonotic Dis. 11(7):963-968.

Reif KE, Macaluso KR. 2009. The ecology of Rickettsia felis – A review. J. Medical Entomology. 46:723-736.

Reif KE, Stout RW, Henry GC, Foil LD, Macaluso KR. 2008. Prevalence and infection load dynamics of Rickettsia felis in actively feeding cat fleas. PLoS ONE. 3:e2805.

Xu Q, Seemanpalli SV, Reif KE, Brown CR, Liang FT. 2007. Increasing the recruitment of neutrophils to the site of infection dramatically attenuates Borrelia burgdorferi infectivity. J. Immunology. 178(8):5109-15.

Reif KE, Carreno RA, Tuhela L. 2005. SEM observations on Leidynema portentosae Van Waerebeke, 1978 (Nematoda, Oxyurida) from Gromphadorhina portentosa (Insecta, Blattodea). Acta Parasitologica. 50:332-335.

Carreno RA, Reif KE, Nadler SA. 2005. A new species of Skrjabingylus Petrov, 1927 (Nematoda: Metastrongyloidea) from the frontal sinuses of the hooded skunk, Mephitis macroura (Mustelidae). J. Parasitology. 91:102-107.