Prof Christine Maritz-Olivier


Teaching subjects:

BCM368 - Biochemistry of disease (Immunology and Vaccinology)

BTW701 - Biotechnology

GTS351 - Eukaryotic genome control

GTS 700 - Advanced research techniques & Ethics in animal research



Professor Christine Maritz-Olivier is an associate professor in the Department of Genetics in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences since 2010. She obtained all of her degrees cum laude from the University of Pretoria in Biochemistry. During 2005-2010 she carried out postdoctoral research as a Wellcome Trust funded fellow in both South Africa and the Netherlands. Currently, her research focus on five pillars that forms an integrated platform for the control of ticks and tick-borne diseases.


  • Firstly, numerous antigens for tick vaccines have been validated resulting in a 93% reduction in engorged ticks.
  • Secondly, she studies immune responses to tick infestation in African cattle breeds, allowing rational improvement of vaccine formulations.
  • To ensure that vaccines will be protective under field conditions, where co-infestation with ticks and tick-borne diseases of the host are the reality, we also study the immune responses under conditions of co-infection. In this regard, we focus Babesia and Anaplasma spp. as it is the two most important diseases transmitted by Rhipicephalus microplus.
  • Thirdly, her genetic markers for cattle ticks paved the way for phylogeographical studies and pioneered the field of strain-specific vaccines.
  • Fourthly, diagnostic tests for acaricide resistance have been developed and used in field studies to guide cattle farmers on effective dipping.
  • Lastly, her group was the first to describe the nucleated states of Babesia divergens and to establish a drug-screening platform for the species.


Her research group is multidisciplinary with collaborators from USA, Spain, Australia, France, Czech republic, The Netherlands, Brazil, Portugal, Germany and the United Kingdom contributing. Prof Maritz-Olivier is co-initiator of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation cattle tick vaccine (CatVac) project and past President of the International Society of Tropical Veterinary Medicine. She is an active member of the International Veterinary Vaccine Network and the African Network for human and animal vaccines.

She has published 36 articles, two book chapters, two invention disclosures and one patent. Research findings have been presented at 53 national and 41 international conferences (10 invited speaker). To date, 32 BSc (Hons), 24 MSc and 8 PhD students have graduated under her direct supervision.


Scientific awards

  • Honorary membership of the Society of Tropical Veterinary Medicine
  • City Press Winning Women
  • Exceptional Young Researcher University of Pretoria
  • Best Biotechnology Research Award Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
  • International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Young Scientist Award (Canada)
  • Andrew F Mellon Foundation fellowships, New York, USA
  • Bruce and Betty Alberts endowed scholarship in Physiology, Caswell Grave scholarship and Frankie R Lillie fellowship from MBL, Massachusetts, USA.


Recent Publications:

  • Baron S, van der Merwe NA, Maritz-Olivier C. The genetic relationship between R. microplus and R. decoloratus ticks in South Africa and their population structure. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2018 Dec;129:60-69.
  • Baron S, Barrero RA, Black M, Bellgard MI, van Dalen EMS, Fourie J, Maritz-Olivier C. Differentially expressed genes in response to amitraz treatment suggests a proposed model of resistance to amitraz in R. decoloratus ticks. Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist. 2018 Dec;8(3):361-371.
  • Robbertse L, Richards SA, Clift SJ, Barnard AC, Leisewitz A, Crafford JE, Maritz-Olivier C. Comparison of the differential regulation of T and B-lymphocyte subsets in the skin and lymph nodes amongst three cattle breeds as potential mediators of immune-resistance to Rhipicephalus microplus. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018 May;9(4):976-987.
  • Stutzer C, Richards SA, Ferreira M, Baron S, Maritz-Olivier C. Metazoan Parasite Vaccines: Present Status and Future Prospects. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2018 Mar 13;8:67.
  • Sungirai M, Baron S, Van der Merwe NA, Moyo DZ, De Clercq P, Maritz-Olivier C, Madder M. Population structure and genetic diversity of Rhipicephalus microplus in Zimbabwe. Acta Trop. 2018 Apr;180:42-46.
  • Robbertse L, Richards SA, Maritz-Olivier C. Bovine Immune Factors Underlying Tick Resistance: Integration and Future Directions. Front Cell Infect Microbiol.  2017 Dec 19;7:522.
  • Sungirai M, Baron S, Moyo DZ, De Clercq P, Maritz-Olivier C, Madder M. Genotyping acaricide resistance profiles of Rhipicephalus microplus tick populations from communal land areas of Zimbabwe. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2018 Jan;9(1):2-9.
  • de la Fuente J, Kopáček P, Lew-Tabor A, Maritz-Olivier C. Strategies for new and improved vaccines against ticks and tick-borne diseases. Parasite Immunol. 2016 Dec;38(12):754-769.
  • Robbertse L, Baron S, van der Merwe NA, Madder M, Stoltsz WH, Maritz-Olivier C. Genetic diversity, acaricide resistance status and evolutionary potential of a Rhipicephalus microplus population from a disease-controlled cattle farming area in South Africa. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2016 Jun;7(4):595-603.
  • Schetters T, Bishop R, Crampton M, Kopáček P, Lew-Tabor A, Maritz-Olivier C, Miller R, Mosqueda J, Patarroyo J, Rodriguez-Valle M, Scoles GA, de la Fuente J. Cattle tick vaccine researchers join forces in CATVAC. Parasit Vectors. 2016 Feb 24;9:105.
  • Wyk RDj, Baron S, Maritz-Olivier C. An integrative approach to understanding pyrethroid resistance in Rhipicephalus microplus and R. decoloratus ticks. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2016 Jun;7(4):586-94.
  • Baron S, van der Merwe NA, Madder M, Maritz-Olivier C. SNP Analysis Infers that Recombination Is Involved in the Evolution of Amitraz Resistance in Rhipicephalus microplus. PLoS One. 2015 Jul 9;10(7):e0131341.
  • Richards SA, Stutzer C, Bosman AM, Maritz-Olivier C. Transmembrane proteins--Mining the cattle tick transcriptome. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2015 Sep;6(6):695-710.
  • Rossouw I, Maritz-Olivier C, Niemand J, van Biljon R, Smit A, Olivier NA, Birkholtz LM. Morphological and Molecular Descriptors of the Developmental Cycle of Babesia divergens Parasites in Human Erythrocytes. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2015 May 8;9(5):e0003711.
  • van Zyl WA, Stutzer C, Olivier NA, Maritz-Olivier C. Comparative microarray analyses of adult female midgut tissues from feeding Rhipicephalus species. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2015 Feb;6(1):84-90.


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