Project description:Ticks are haematophagous ectoparasites of medical and veterinary significance due to their excellent vector capacity. Modern sequencing techniques enabled the rapid sequencing of bacterial pathogens and symbionts. This study's aims were two-fold; to determine the nymph diversity in Sydney, and to determine whether external biotic factors affect the microbiota. Tick DNA was isolated, and the molecular identity was determined for nymphs at the cox1 level. The tick DNA was subjected to high throughput DNA sequencing to determine the bacterial profile and the impact of biotic factors on the microbiota. Four nymph tick species were recovered from Sydney, NSW: Haemaphysalis bancrofti, Ixodes holocyclus, Ixodes trichosuri and Ixodes tasmani. Biotic factors, notably tick species and geography, were found to have a significance influence on the microbiota. The microbial analyses revealed that Sydney ticks display a core microbiota. The dominating endosymbionts among all tick species were Candidatus Midichloria sp. Ixholo1 and Candidatus Midichloria sp. Ixholo2. A novel Candidatus Midichloria sp. OTU_2090 was only found in I. holocyclus ticks (nymph: 96.3%, adult: 75.6%). Candidatus Neoehrlichia australis and Candidatus Neoehrlichia arcana was recovered from I. holocyclus and one I. trichosuri nymph ticks. Borrelia spp. was absent from all ticks. This study has shown that nymph and adult ticks carry different bacteria, and a tick bite in Sydney, Australia will result in different bacterial transfer depending on tick life stage, tick species and geography.
Project description:Serine protease inhibitors (serpins) are thought to mediate the tick's evasion of the host's serine protease-mediated defense pathways such as inflammation and blood clotting. This study describes characterization and target validation of 11 blood meal-responsive serpins that are associated with nymph and adult Ixodes scapularis tick feeding as revealed by quantitative (q)RT-PCR and RNAi silencing analyses. Given the high number of targets, we used combinatorial (co) RNAi silencing to disrupt candidate serpins in two groups (G): seven highly identical and four non-identical serpins based on amino acid identities, here after called GI and GII respectively. We show that injection of both GI and GII co-dsRNA into unfed nymph and adult I. scapularis ticks triggered suppression of cognate serpin mRNA. We show that disruption of GII, but not GI serpins significantly reduced feeding efficiency of both nymph and adult I. scapularis ticks. Knockdown of GII serpin transcripts caused significant respective mortalities of ?40 and 71% of nymphal and adult ticks that occurred within 24-48?h of attachment. This is significant, as the observed lethality preceded the tick feeding period when transmission of tick borne pathogens is predominant. We suspect that some of the GII serpins (S9, S17, S19 and S32) play roles in the tick detachment process in that upon detachment, mouthparts of GII co-dsRNA injected were covered with a whitish gel-like tissue that could be the tick cement cone. Normally, ticks do not retain tissue on their mouthparts upon detachment. Furthermore, disruption of GII serpins reduced tick blood meal sizes and the adult tick's ability to convert the blood meal to eggs. We discuss our data with reference to tick feeding physiology and conclude that some of the GII serpins are potential targets for anti-tick vaccine development.
Project description:Ticks are important vectors of a broad range of pathogens in Australia. Many tick species are morphologically similar and are therefore difficult to identify using morphology alone, particularly when collected in the larval and nymphal life stages. We report here the application of molecular methods to examine the species diversity of ixodid ticks at two sites in southern New South Wales, Australia. Our taxon sampling included six morphologically characterised adult stage voucher specimens of Ixodes trichosuri, Ixodes tasmani, Ixodes fecialis and Ixodes holocyclus (the paralysis tick) and ~250 field collected specimens that were in the larva or nymph stage and thus not morphologically identifiable. One nuclear and two mitochondrial amplicons were sequenced using a combination of Sanger and Illumina MiSeq sequencing. Phylogenetic relationships were estimated using both maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods. Two clades with strong bootstrap and Bayesian support were observed across trees estimated from each of three markers and from an analysis of the concatenated sequences. One voucher specimen of I. trichosuri was located in one of these clades, while the other I. trichosuri voucher specimen was in a second clade with the remaining three identified species, suggesting these morphologically similar ticks may represent different cryptic species. Unidentified specimens were found across both clades, and molecular divergence of many of these is equal to or greater than that observed between identified species, suggesting additional unidentified species may exist. Further studies are required to understand the taxonomic status of ticks in Australia, and how this species diversity impacts disease risk for livestock, domestic animals, wildlife and humans.
Project description:Lyme borreliosis is the most common tick-borne disease in the northern hemisphere. In Europe, it is transmitted by Ixodes ticks that carry bacteria belonging to the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato complex. The objective of this work was to explore eco-epidemiological factors of Lyme borreliosis in peri-urban forests of France (Sénart, Notre-Dame and Rambouillet). We investigated whether the introduction of Tamias sibiricus in Sénart could alter the density of infected ticks. Moreover, the density and tick infection were investigated according to the tree species found in various patches of Sénart forest. For this purpose, ticks were sampled during 3 years. In the Sénart forest, the density of nymph and adult ticks showed no significant difference between 2008, 2009 and 2011. The nymph density varied significantly as a function of the month of collection. Regarding the nymphs, a higher rate of infection and infected density were found in 2009. Plots with chipmunks (C) presented a lower density of both nymphs and adult ticks than plots without chipmunks (NC) did. A higher rate of infection of nymphs with Borrelia was seen in C plots. The prevalence of the various species of Borrelia was also found to vary between C and NC plots with the year of the collect. The presence of chestnut trees positively influenced the density of both nymphs and adults. The infected nymph density showed a significant difference depending on the peri-urban forest studied, Sénart being higher than Rambouillet. The prevalence of Borrelia species also differed between the various forests studied. Concerning the putative role that Tamias sibiricus may play in the transmission of Borrelia, our results suggest that its presence is correlated with a higher rate of infection of questing ticks by Borrelia genospecies and if its population increases, it could play a significant role in the risk of transmission of Lyme borreliosis.
Project description:We demonstrate maintenance and transmission of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus by Haemaphysalis longicornis ticks in the larva, nymph, and adult stages with dissemination in salivary gland, midgut, and ovarian tissues. The H. longicornis tick is a competent vector to transmit this virus in both transovarial and transstadial modes.
Project description:Cases of Mediterranean Spotted Fever like rickettsioses, caused by Rickettsia monacensis, have become more common in the last 10 years. In China, natural infection of R. monacensis in various tick species has been confirmed but the vector(s) of R. monacensis have not been recorded.The prevalence of R. monacensis in >1500 Ixodidae ticks from central and southern China was determined using centrifugation-shell vial culture and polymerase chain reaction techniques. The predominant species, Ixodes sinensis, harbored a natural infection of R. monacensis and was assumed to be a vector candidate of R. monacensis. Experimental transmissions were initialized by infecting Rickettsia-free tick colonies with R. monacensis using capillary tube feeding (CTF) or immersion techniques. Transstadial and transovarial transmissions, and transmission from ticks to mice, were conducted under laboratory conditions.R. monacensis was isolated and identified from hemolymph of Ixodes sinensis using molecular techniques. Transovarial transmission of R. monacensis from infected ?I. sinensis to offspring was documented and infected offspring successfully passed Rickettsia to mice. Transstadial transmission rates were 58% in larva to nymph and 56% in nymph to adult stages. Infected nymphs and adults were also able to infect mice.I. sinensis is a competence vector for R. monacensis as demonstrated by natural infection and transmission studies.
Project description:Hard ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) act as important vectors of zoonotic pathogens. For instance, Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. spirochetes pose a severe health risk as aetiological agents of Lyme borreliosis. Commonly, to study the abundance of questing (host-seeking) ticks, a 1 m<sup>2</sup> piece of cloth is dragged over vegetation for a determined distance. Here, we designed a tick-sampling study to estimate the sampling efficiency of this standard method. We established 10 m dragging transects in a hemiboreal mixed forest patch in SW Finland for a 5-day monitoring period. Five of the transects were cloth-dragged 3× a day, whereas another five transects were dragged 6× a day in a manner that after each morning, midday and afternoon dragging, a second dragging was conducted on the same transect immediately. Captured Ixodes ricinus ticks were subsequently analysed for tick-borne pathogens. The initial population size of nymphal ticks on a transect was approximated by the accumulated nymph catch from the dragging sessions. The sampling efficiency of the cloth dragging was low, as a single dragging in a previously untouched vegetation strip always caught less than 12% (mean 6%) of the estimated population of active nymphs that were assumed to be questing during the study. Clear results were not found for daily activity rhythm, as ticks were caught in all daily dragging sessions. Approximately every third nymph and every second adult carried a pathogen, but nothing indicated that the occurrence of a pathogen affected the likelihood of the tick being caught by cloth dragging. Our results suggest that only a minority of active ticks can be caught by a single cloth dragging. The abundance estimates in many tick investigations might thus be downward biased.
Project description:Borrelia sp. prevalence in ticks on migratory birds was surveyed in central Japan. In autumn, a total of 1,733 birds representing 40 species were examined for ticks. A total of 361 ticks were obtained from 173 birds of 15 species, and these ticks were immature Haemaphysalis flava (94.4%), Haemaphysalis longicornis, Ixodes columnae, Ixodes persulcatus, Ixodes turdus, and an unidentified Ixodes species. Of these, 27 juveniles of H. flava on Turdus pallidus, Turdus cardis, or Emberiza spodocephala, 2 juveniles of I. persulcatus on T. pallidus, and 1 female H. flava molted from a T. pallidus-derived nymph were positive for the presence of Borrelia by Barbour-Stoenner-Kelly culture passages. In spring, a total of 16 ticks obtained from 102 birds of 21 species were negative for the spirochete. Isolates from 15 ticks were characterized by 5S-23S rRNA intergenic spacer restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis; all isolates were identified as Borrelia garinii with pattern B/B' based on the previous patterning. According to the intergenic spacer sequences, 2 of 15 isolates, strains Fi14f and Fi24f, were highly similar to B. garinii strains 935T of Korea and ChY13p of Inner Mongolia, China, respectively. These findings indicate that Lyme disease-causing B. garinii may have been introduced to Japan by migratory birds from northeastern China via Korea. Additionally, a case of transstadial transmission of B. garinii from nymph to adult H. flava suggests that the infected H. flava may transmit Borrelia to large animals.
Project description:Transstadial transmission of tick-borne rickettsiae has been well documented. Few studies, however, have evaluated the role of transovarial transmission of tick-borne rickettsiae, particularly in nature within the host-vector ecosystem. This cross-sectional study aimed to understand the role of transovarial transmission of tick-borne rickettsiae among feeding ticks at different life stages. Tick eggs laid by engorged wild-caught adult female ticks were pooled and tested for Rickettsia spp. and Anaplasma/Ehrlichia spp. using molecular techniques, while adult fed ticks were tested individually. Additionally, larval and nymphal ticks were collected in the wild from small mammals, pooled and tested for Rickettsia spp. and Anaplasma/Ehrlichia spp. There were 38 fed adult and 618 larvae/nymphs (60 pools total) Dermacentor spp. ticks collected from livestock and rodents. All individual adult ticks and tick pools were positive for Rickettsia spp. While none of the larvae/nymphs were positive for Anaplasma/Ehrlichia spp., two adult fed ticks were positive. Rickettsia spp. DNA was detected in 91% (30/33) of the pooled eggs tested, and one pool of eggs tested positive for Anaplasma/Ehrlichia spp. Sequencing data revealed Rickettsia spp. shared ?99% identity with R. raoultii ompA. Anaplasma/Ehrlichia spp. shared ?89% identity with A. ovis 16S ribosomal RNA. This study identified potential transovarial transmission of Rickettsia spp. and Anaplasma spp. among D. nuttalli ticks. Additional studies are needed to further assess the proportion of transovarial transmission occurring in nature to better understand the burden and disease ecology of tick-borne rickettsiae in Mongolia.
Project description:In Europe, hard ticks of the subgenus Pholeoixodes (Ixodidae: Ixodes) are usually associated with burrow-dwelling mammals and terrestrial birds. Reports of Pholeoixodes spp. from carnivores are frequently contradictory, and their identification is not based on key diagnostic characters. Therefore, the aims of the present study were to identify ticks collected from dogs, foxes and badgers in several European countries, and to reassess their systematic status with molecular analyses using two mitochondrial markers.Between 2003 and 2017, 144 Pholeoixodes spp. ticks were collected in nine European countries. From accurate descriptions and comparison with type-materials, a simple illustrated identification key was compiled for adult females, by focusing on the shape of the anterior surface of basis capituli. Based on this key, 71 female ticks were identified as I. canisuga, 21 as I. kaiseri and 21 as I. hexagonus. DNA was extracted from these 113 female ticks, and from further 31 specimens. Fragments of two mitochondrial genes, cox1 (cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1) and 16S rRNA, were amplified and sequenced. Ixodes kaiseri had nine unique cox1 haplotypes, which showed 99.2-100% sequence identity, whereas I. canisuga and I. hexagonus had eleven and five cox1 haplotypes, respectively, with 99.5-100% sequence identity. The distribution of cox1 haplotypes reflected a geographical pattern. Pholeoixodes spp. ticks had fewer 16S rRNA haplotypes, with a lower degree of intraspecific divergence (99.5-100% sequence identity) and no geographical clustering. Phylogenetic analyses were in agreement with morphology: I. kaiseri and I. hexagonus (with the similar shape of the anterior surface of basis capituli) were genetically more closely related to each other than to I. canisuga. Phylogenetic analyses also showed that the subgenus Eschatocephalus (bat ticks) clustered within the subgenus Pholeoixodes.A simple, illustrated identification key is provided for female Pholeoixodes ticks of carnivores (including I. hexagonus and I. rugicollis) to prevent future misidentification of these species. It is also shown that I. kaiseri is more widespread in Europe than previously thought. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that the subgenus Pholeoixodes is not monophyletic: either the subgenus Eschatocephalus should be included in Pholeoixodes, or the latter subgenus should be divided, which is a task for future studies.