Babesia, the causal agent of babesiosis, are tick-borne apicomplexan protozoa. True babesiae (Babesia genus sensu stricto) are biologically characterized by direct development in erythrocytes and by transovarial transmission in the tick. A large number of true Babesia species have been described in various vertebrate and tick hosts. This review presents the genus then discusses specific adaptations of Babesia spp. to their hosts to achieve efficient transmission. The main adaptations lead to long-lasting interactions which result in the induction of two reservoirs: in the vertebrate host during low long-term parasitemia and throughout the life cycle of the tick host as a result of transovarial and transstadial transmission. The molecular bases of these adaptations in vertebrate hosts are partially known but few of the tick-host interaction mechanisms have been elucidated.
Vet Res. 2009 Mar-Apr;40(2):37