Rhipicephalus microplus and Rhipicephalus decoloratus species occur in regions with savannah and temperate climates, typically in grassland and wooded areas used as cattle pasture. Both species are associated with the transmission of Anaplasma and Babesia spp., impacting livestock health and quality of livestock-associated products. In Africa, tick control is predominantly mediated with the use of acaricides, such as synthetic pyrethroids. After several years on the market, reports of resistance to synthetic pyrethroids escalated but limited field data and validation studies have been conducted to determine the extent of acaricide resistance in Africa. Without this data, knowledge-based tick control will remain problematic and selection pressure will remain high increasing the rate of resistance acquisition.
To date, several pyrethroid resistance associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been reported for arthropods within the voltage-gated sodium channel. Three SNPs have been identified within this channel in pyrethroid resistant R. microplus ticks, but none has been reported for R. decoloratus. This study is the first to report the presence of a shared SNP within the voltage-gated sodium channel in both R. microplus and R. decoloratus, which is directly linked to pyrethroid resistance in R. microplus. As the mode of action by which these SNPs mediate pyrethroid resistance remains unknown, this study aims to set hypotheses by means of predictive structural modelling. This not only paves the way forward to elucidating the underlying biological mechanisms involved in pyrethroid resistance, but also improvement of existing acaricides and ultimately sustainable tick control management.