Fielden Team

Fielden team: Erin Sanders, Dr. Laura Fielden, Katie Loock


Dr. Laura Fielden, Professor of Biology (email:; website)

BSc in Zoology and entomology from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, Ph.D from University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in Zoology. Came to the USA in 1995 to work on insect physiology as a post Doc at the University of Utah. Since then I have taught at Berry College in Georgia, and arrived at Truman in 1999.

Project: Surviving without Oxygen: Cryptobiosis in Ticks

A cryptobiotic organism is one that can enter ametabolic state under adverse or hostile conditions. There are several examples of cryptobiotic bacteria and even some small microscopic animals including rotifers, nematode worms and arthopods. Cryptobiosis can be induced by several factors including freezing, extreme desiccation, and a lack of oxygen (anoxybiosis). Cryptobiotic organisms are of great interest to astrobiologists because of their ability to withstand hostile conditions, such as those that were present on the early Earth and which may exist on other planets.


Are ticks cryptobiotic organisms? More specifically are they anoxybiotic organisms? Ticks are ectoparasites that have developed remarkable physiological strategies for surviving harsh natural conditions when off host. This project will examine the ability of ticks to tolerate anoxia. Ticks may be exposed to limited oxygen availability during flooding or when they overwinter under ice and snow. The proposed study will investigate the survivability and recovery potential of ticks exposed to anoxia.

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