← All People

Adela Oliva Chavez

Oliva Chavez, Adela
Adela Oliva Chavez
Assistant Professor
318 Heep Center
Undergraduate Education
B.S. Agricultural Engineering, Escuela Agrícola Panamericana “Zamorano”, Honduras
Graduate Education
M.S. Entomology, University of Minnesota
Ph.D. Entomology, University of Minnesota
Young Scientist Ticks & Tick-borne Pathogens Award. 2014
Most Valuable PhD Student. Department of Entomology. 2009
Distinguished Master Thesis. Graduate School. 2009

Research interests

My lab focuses on the molecular host-pathogen and vector-pathogen interactions. Vector-borne pathogens have evolved in close relationship with their vectors and hosts for thousands of years. Thus, they have acquired mechanisms to manipulate the cellular machinery of both, the vector and the mammalian host. I am interested in how vector-borne pathogens influence host and vector cellular responses, such as immune responses, cellular trafficking, and vesicle secretion.

We are also interested in how tick-borne pathogens sense environmental changes when moving between the vector and the mammalian host. Members of the Anaplasmataceae change their protein profile during their development within the mammalian host when compared to the vector. We want to use these bacteria as a model to understand what clues intracellular bacteria use to detect changes in environment. This knowledge could lead to development of interventions to disrupt the life cycle of tick-borne pathogens, and prevent disease in humans and animals.


Host-Pathogen-Vector interactions in tick-borne diseases of medical and veterinary importance.

Teaching Experience

Basic Immunology. Discussion Leader. University of Maryland, School of Medicine.

Insect Structure & Function. Invited Guest Lecturer. University of Minnesota.

Special problems in Entomology. Invited Guest Lecturer. University of Minnesota.

Insect Structure and Function, Insect Biology, Insect Taxonomy. Teaching Assistant. University of Minnesota.


Peer reviewed

Chávez ASO, O’Neal AJ, Santambrogio L, Kotsyfakis M, Pedra JHF. Message in a vesicle – trans-kingdom intercommunication at the vector-host interface. J Cell Sci2019 Mar 18;132(6)doi: 10.1242/jcs.224212. Review. PubMed PMID: 30886004; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6451414.

Oliva Chávez AS, Herron MJ, Nelson CM, Felsheim RF, Oliver JD, Burkhardt NY, Kurtti TJ, Munderloh UG. 2019. Mutational analysis of gene function in the Anaplasmataceae: Challenges and perspectives. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. Feb;10(2):482-494.

McClure Carroll EE, Wang X, Shaw DK, O’Neal AJ, Oliva Chávez AS, Brown LJ, Boradia VM, Hammond HL, Pedra JHF. 2019. p47 licenses activation of the immune deficiency pathway in the tick Ixodes scapularis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Jan 2;116(1):205-210.

McClure, E, Oliva Chávez AS, Shaw D, Carlyon J, Ganta R, Noh S, Wood D, Bavoil P, Brayton K, Martinez J, McBride J, Valdivia R, Munderloh U, and Pedra J. 2017. Engineering of obligate intracellular bacteria: progress, challenges, and paradigms. Nat. Reviews Microbiol.  doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2017.59.

Oliva Chávez AS, Shaw DK, Munderloh UG and Pedra J. 2017. Tick humoral responses: marching to the beat of a different drummer. Front. Microbiol. 8:223.

Shaw DK, Wang X, Brown LJ, Oliva Chávez AS, Reif KE, Smith AA, Scott AJ, McClure EE, Boradia VM, Hammond HL, Sundberd EJ, Snyder G, Liu Lei, DePonte K, Villar Margarita, Ueti MW, de la Fuente J, Ernst RK, Pal U, Fikrig E, and Pedra J. 2017. Infection-derived lipids elicit an immune deficiency circuit in arthropods. Nat. Commun. 8:14401.

Oliva Chávez AS, Fairman JW, Felsheim RF, Nelson CM, Herron MJ, Higgins L, Burkhardt NY, Oliver JD, Markowski TW, Edwards TE, and Munderloh, UG. 2015. An O-methyltransferase is required for infection of tick cells by Anaplasma phagocytophilum. PLoS Pathog. 11(11):e1005248.

Oliver JD, Chávez AS, Felsheim RF, Kurtti TJ, Munderloh UG. 2015. An Ixodes scapularis cell line with a predominantly neuron-like phenotype. Exp. Appl. Acarol. 66(3):427-42.

Oliva Chávez AS, Felsheim RF, Kurtti TJ, Ku PS, Brayton KA, Munderloh UG. 2012. Expression patterns of Anaplasma marginale Msp2 variants change in response to growth in cattle, and tick cells versus mammalian cells. PLoS One 7(4):e36012.

Baldridge GD, Burkhardt NY, Oliva AS, Kurtti TJ, Munderloh UG. 2010. Rickettsial ompB promoter regulated expression of GFPuv in transformed Rickettsia montanensis. PLoS One 5(1):e8965.

Felsheim RF, Chávez AS, Palmer GH, Crosby L, Barbet AF, Kurtti TJ, Munderloh UG. 2010. Transformation of Anaplasma marginale. Vet Parasitol. 167(2-4):167-74.

Nelson CM, Herron MJ, Felsheim RF, Schloeder BR, Grindle SM, Chavez AO, Kurtti TJ, Munderloh UG.  2008. Whole genome transcription profiling of Anaplasma phagocytophilum in human and tick host cells by tiling array analysis. BMC Genomics. 9:364.

Baldridge GD, Kurtti TJ, Burkhardt N, Baldridge AS, Nelson CM, Oliva AS, Munderloh UG. 2007. Infection of Ixodes scapularis ticks with Rickettsia monacensis expressing green fluorescent protein: a model system. J Invertebr Pathol. 94(3):163-74.

Book chapters

Marcelino I, Oliva Chávez AS, Gharbi M, Farber M, Holzmuller P, Martinez D, Vachiery N. 2018. Chapter 6: Protozoan and Rickettsial Vaccines. Book: Veterinary vaccines for livestock. First Edition. Publisher: FAO Rome. (Accepted).

Munderloh, UG, Felsheim RF, Burkhardt NY, Herron, MJ, Oliva Chávez AS, Nelson, CM, and Kurtti, TJ. 2012. Chapter 14: The way forward: Improving Genetic Systems. Book: Intracellular Pathogens II: Rickettsiales. First Edition. Publisher: ASM Press.