ResearchPad - rickettsia https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Factors affecting the microbiome of <i>Ixodes scapularis</i> and <i>Amblyomma americanum</i>]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14701 The microbial community composition of disease vectors can impact pathogen establishment and transmission as well as on vector behavior and fitness. While data on vector microbiota are accumulating quickly, determinants of the variation in disease vector microbial communities are incompletely understood. We explored the microbiome of two human-biting tick species abundant in eastern North America (Amblyomma americanum and Ixodes scapularis) to identify the relative contribution of tick species, tick life stage, tick sex, environmental context and vertical transmission to the richness, diversity, and species composition of the tick microbiome. We sampled 89 adult and nymphal Ixodes scapularis (N = 49) and Amblyomma americanum (N = 40) from two field sites and characterized the microbiome of each individual using the v3-v4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene. We identified significant variation in microbial community composition due to tick species and life stage with lesser impact of sampling site. Compared to unfed nymphs and males, the microbiome of engorged adult female I. scapularis, as well as the egg masses they produced, were low in bacterial richness and diversity and were dominated by Rickettsia, suggesting strong vertical transmission of this genus. Likewise, microbiota of A. americanum nymphs and males were more diverse than those of adult females. Among bacteria of public health importance, we detected several different Rickettsia sequence types, several of which were distinct from known species. Borrelia was relatively common in I. scapularis but did not show the same level of sequence variation as Rickettsia. Several bacterial genera were significantly over-represented in Borrelia-infected I. scapularis, suggesting a potential interaction of facilitative relationship between these taxa; no OTUs were under-represented in Borrelia-infected ticks. The systematic sampling we conducted for this study allowed us to partition the variation in tick microbial composition as a function of tick- and environmentally-related factors. Upon more complete understanding of the forces that shape the tick microbiome it will be possible to design targeted experimental studies to test the impacts of individual taxa and suites of microbes on vector-borne pathogen transmission and on vector biology.

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<![CDATA[An observational prospective cohort study of the epidemiology of hospitalized patients with acute febrile illness in Indonesia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Ndbbe8a0e-f4c8-420f-b13a-f542e5af6866

Background

The epidemiology of acute febrile illness, a common cause of hospitalization in Indonesia, has not been systematically studied.

Methodology/Principal findings

This prospective observational study enrolled febrile patients (temperature ≥38°C) aged ≥1 year from July 2013 until June 2016 at eight government referral teaching hospitals in seven provincial capitals in Indonesia. Patients were managed according to the hospital standard-of-care (SOC), and blood samples were drawn for molecular and serological assays. Clinical data, laboratory results, and specimens for additional tests were collected at enrollment, days 14–28, and at three months. Regular follow-up visits were then scheduled for every three months either until symptoms resolved or until one year. In total, this study included 1,486 adult and pediatric patients presenting with multi-organ (768, 51.7%), gastrointestinal (497, 33.0%), respiratory (114, 7.7%), constitutional (62, 4.2%), skin and soft-tissue (24, 1.6%), central nervous system (17, 1.1%), or genitourinary (4, 0.3%) manifestations. Microbiological diagnoses were found in 1,003/1,486 (67.5%) participants, of which 351/1,003 (35.0%) were not diagnosed during hospitalization using SOC diagnostic tests. Missed diagnoses included all cases caused by Rickettsia spp., chikungunya, influenza, and Seoul virus. The most common etiologic agents identified were dengue virus (467, 46.6%), Salmonella spp. (103, 10.3%), and Rickettsia spp. (103, 10.3%). The overall mortality was 89 (5.9%).

Conclusions/Significance

Febrile illness in Indonesia has various microbiologic etiologies and substantial overall mortality. Diagnostic limitations and lack of epidemiologic data resulted in potentially treatable, and at times fatal, diseases being missed.

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<![CDATA[Metagenomic profiling of ticks: Identification of novel rickettsial genomes and detection of tick-borne canine parvovirus]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c466531d5eed0c484517eb1

Background

Across the world, ticks act as vectors of human and animal pathogens. Ticks rely on bacterial endosymbionts, which often share close and complex evolutionary links with tick-borne pathogens. As the prevalence, diversity and virulence potential of tick-borne agents remain poorly understood, there is a pressing need for microbial surveillance of ticks as potential disease vectors.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We developed a two-stage protocol that includes 16S-amplicon screening of pooled samples of hard ticks collected from dogs, sheep and camels in Palestine, followed by shotgun metagenomics on individual ticks to detect and characterise tick-borne pathogens and endosymbionts. Two ticks isolated from sheep yielded an abundance of reads from the genus Rickettsia, which were assembled into draft genomes. One of the resulting genomes was highly similar to Rickettsia massiliae strain MTU5. Analysis of signature genes showed that the other represents the first genome sequence of the potential pathogen Candidatus Rickettsia barbariae. Ticks from a dog and a sheep yielded draft genome sequences of Coxiella strains. A sheep tick yielded sequences from the sheep pathogen Anaplasma ovis, while Hyalomma ticks from camels yielded sequences belonging to Francisella-like endosymbionts. From the metagenome of a dog tick from Jericho, we generated a genome sequence of a canine parvovirus.

Significance

Here, we have shown how a cost-effective two-stage protocol can be used to detect and characterise tick-borne pathogens and endosymbionts. In recovering genome sequences from an unexpected pathogen (canine parvovirus) and a previously unsequenced pathogen (Candidatus Rickettsia barbariae), we demonstrate the open-ended nature of metagenomics. We also provide evidence that ticks can carry canine parvovirus, raising the possibility that ticks might contribute to the spread of this troublesome virus.

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<![CDATA[Hosts mobility and spatial spread of Rickettsia rickettsii]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c2d2f01d5eed0c484d9cba2

There are a huge number of pathogens with multi-component transmission cycles, involving amplifier hosts, vectors or complex pathogen life cycles. These complex systems present challenges in terms of modeling and policy development. A lethal tick-borne infectious disease, the Brazilian Spotted Fever (BSF), is a relevant example of that. The current increase of human cases of BSF has been associated with the presence and expansion of the capybara Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, amplifier host for the agent Rickettsia rickettsii and primary host for the tick vector Amblyomma sculptum. We introduce a stochastic dynamical model that captures the spatial distribution of capybaras and ticks to gain a better understanding of the spatial spread of the R. rickettsii and potentially predict future epidemic outcomes. We implemented a reaction-diffusion process in which individuals were divided into classes denoting their state with respect to the disease. The model considered bidirectional movements between base and destination locations limited by the carrying capacity of the environment. We performed systematic stochastic simulations and numerical analysis of the model and investigate the impact of potential interventions to mitigate the spatial spread of the disease. The mobility of capybaras and their attached ticks was significantly influenced by the birth rate of capybaras and therefore, disease propagation velocity was higher in places with higher carrying capacity. Some geographical barriers, generated for example by riparian reforesting, can impede the spatial spread of BSF. The results of this work will allow the formulation of public actions focused on the prevention of BSF human cases.

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<![CDATA[A survey of argasid ticks and tick-associated pathogens in the Peripheral Oases around Tarim Basin and the first record of Argas japonicus in Xinjiang, China]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c2d2eacd5eed0c484d9b0b4

Argasid ticks (Acari: Argasidae) carry and transmit a variety of pathogens of animals and humans, including viruses, bacteria and parasites. There are several studies reporting ixodid ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) and associated tick-borne pathogens in Xinjiang, China. However, little is known about the argasid ticks and argasid tick-associated pathogens in this area. In this study, a total of 3829 adult argasid ticks infesting livestock were collected at 12 sampling sites of 10 counties in the Peripheral Oases, which carry 90% of the livestock and humans population, around the Tarim Basin (southern Xinjiang) from 2013 to 2016. Tick specimens were identified to two species from different genera by morphology and sequences of mitochondrial 16S rRNA and 12S rRNA were derived to confirm the species designation. The results showed that the dominant argasid ticks infesting livestock in southern Xinjiang were Ornithodoros lahorensis (87.86%, 3364/3829). Ornithodoros lahorensis was distributed widely and were collected from 10 counties of southern Xinjiang. Argas japonicus was collected from Xinjiang for the first time. In addition, we screened these ticks for tick-associated pathogens and showed the presence of DNA sequences of Rickettsia spp. of Spotted fever group and Anaplasma spp. in the argasid ticks. This finding suggests the potential role for Argas japonicus as a vector of pathogens to livestock and humans.

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<![CDATA[Principles of intracellular bacterial pathogen spread from cell to cell]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1c0afcd5eed0c4844270be ]]> <![CDATA[Cytokine Network in Scrub Typhus: High Levels of Interleukin-8 Are Associated with Disease Severity and Mortality]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f5ab0ee8fa60b6fe50

Background

Scrub typhus, caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, is endemic in the Asia-Pacific region. Mortality is high if untreated, and even with treatment as high as 10–20%, further knowledge of the immune response during scrub typhus is needed. The current study was aimed at comparing plasma levels of a variety of inflammatory mediators in scrub typhus patients and controls in South India in order to map the broader cytokine profile and their relation to disease severity and clinical outcome.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We examined plasma levels of several cytokines in scrub typhus patients (n = 129) compared to healthy controls (n = 31) and infectious disease controls (n = 31), both in the acute phase and after recovery, by multiplex technology and enzyme immunoassays. Scrub typhus patients were characterized by marked changes in the cytokine network during the acute phase, differing not only from healthy controls but also from infectious disease controls. While most of the inflammatory markers were raised in scrub typhus, platelet-derived mediators such as RANTES were markedly decreased, probably reflecting enhanced platelet activation. Some of the inflammatory markers, including various chemokines (e.g., interleukin-8, monocyte chemoattractant peptide-1 and macrophage inflammatory protein-1β) and downstream markers of inflammation (e.g., C-reactive protein and pentraxin-3), were also associated with disease severity and mortality during follow-up, with a particular strong association with interleukin-8.

Conclusions/Significance

Our findings suggest that scrub typhus is characterized by a certain cytokine profile that includes dysregulated levels of a wide range of mediators, and that this enhanced inflammation could contribute to disease severity and clinical outcome.

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<![CDATA[Etiology of Severe Non-malaria Febrile Illness in Northern Tanzania: A Prospective Cohort Study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da15ab0ee8fa60b7adaa

Introduction

The syndrome of fever is a commonly presenting complaint among persons seeking healthcare in low-resource areas, yet the public health community has not approached fever in a comprehensive manner. In many areas, malaria is over-diagnosed, and patients without malaria have poor outcomes.

Methods and Findings

We prospectively studied a cohort of 870 pediatric and adult febrile admissions to two hospitals in northern Tanzania over the period of one year using conventional standard diagnostic tests to establish fever etiology. Malaria was the clinical diagnosis for 528 (60.7%), but was the actual cause of fever in only 14 (1.6%). By contrast, bacterial, mycobacterial, and fungal bloodstream infections accounted for 85 (9.8%), 14 (1.6%), and 25 (2.9%) febrile admissions, respectively. Acute bacterial zoonoses were identified among 118 (26.2%) of febrile admissions; 16 (13.6%) had brucellosis, 40 (33.9%) leptospirosis, 24 (20.3%) had Q fever, 36 (30.5%) had spotted fever group rickettsioses, and 2 (1.8%) had typhus group rickettsioses. In addition, 55 (7.9%) participants had a confirmed acute arbovirus infection, all due to chikungunya. No patient had a bacterial zoonosis or an arbovirus infection included in the admission differential diagnosis.

Conclusions

Malaria was uncommon and over-diagnosed, whereas invasive infections were underappreciated. Bacterial zoonoses and arbovirus infections were highly prevalent yet overlooked. An integrated approach to the syndrome of fever in resource-limited areas is needed to improve patient outcomes and to rationally target disease control efforts.

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<![CDATA[Molecular Detection of Acinetobacter Species in Lice and Keds of Domestic Animals in Oromia Regional State, Ethiopia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9efab0ee8fa60b6df27

This study was conducted to determine the presence of Acinetobacter and Rickettsia species DNA in lice and Melophagus ovinus (sheep ked) of animals from Oromia Regional State in Ethiopia. From September through November 2011, a total of 207 cattle, 85 sheep, 47 dogs and 16 cats were examined for ectoparasites. Results of morphological identification revealed several species of ectoparasites: Linognathus vituli (L. vituli), Bovicola bovis (B. bovis) and Solenopotes capillatus (S. capillatus) on cattle; B. ovis and Melophagus ovinus (M. ovinus) on sheep; and Heterodoxus spiniger (H. spiniger) on dogs. There was a significantly (p≤0.0001) higher prevalence of L. vituli observed in cattle than both S. capillatus and B. bovis. Molecular identification of lice using an 18S rRNA gene analysis confirms the identified lice species by morphological methods. We detected different Acinetobacter species among lice (11.1%) and keds (86.4%) including A. soli in L. vituli of cattle, A. lowffii in M. ovinus of sheep, A. pittii in H. spiniger of dogs, 1 new Acinetobacter spp. in M. ovinus and 2 new Acinetobacter spp. in H. spiniger of dogs using partial rpoB gene sequence analysis. There was a significantly higher prevalence of Acinetobacter spp. in keds than in lice (p≤0.00001). Higher percentage of Acinetobacter spp. DNA was detected in H. spiniger than in both B. ovis and L. vituli (p≤0.00001). Carbapenemase resistance encoding genes for blaOXA-23, blaOXA-24, blaOXA-58, blaNDM-1 and blaOXA-51 were not found in any lice and keds. These findings suggest that synanthropic animals and their ectoparasites might increase the risk of human exposure to zoonotic pathogens and could be a source for Acinetobacter spp. infections in humans. However, additional epidemiological data are required to determine whether ectoparasites of animals can act as environmental reservoirs and play a role in spreading these bacteria to both animal and human hosts.

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<![CDATA[Phylogenetic Variants of Rickettsia africae, and Incidental Identification of "Candidatus Rickettsia Moyalensis" in Kenya]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa6ab0ee8fa60ba798f

Background

Rickettsia africae, the etiological agent of African tick bite fever, is widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa. Contrary to reports of its homogeneity, a localized study in Asembo, Kenya recently reported high genetic diversity. The present study aims to elucidate the extent of this heterogeneity by examining archived Rickettsia africae DNA samples collected from different eco-regions of Kenya.

Methods

To evaluate their phylogenetic relationships, archived genomic DNA obtained from 57 ticks a priori identified to contain R. africae by comparison to ompA, ompB and gltA genes was used to amplify five rickettsial genes i.e. gltA, ompA, ompB, 17kDa and sca4. The resulting amplicons were sequenced. Translated amino acid alignments were used to guide the nucleotide alignments. Single gene and concatenated alignments were used to infer phylogenetic relationships.

Results

Out of the 57 DNA samples, three were determined to be R. aeschlimanii and not R. africae. One sample turned out to be a novel rickettsiae and an interim name of “Candidatus Rickettsia moyalensis” is proposed. The bonafide R. africae formed two distinct clades. Clade I contained 9% of the samples and branched with the validated R. africae str ESF-5, while clade II (two samples) formed a distinct sub-lineage.

Conclusions

This data supports the use of multiple genes for phylogenetic inferences. It is determined that, despite its recent emergence, the R. africae lineage is diverse. This data also provides evidence of a novel Rickettsia species, Candidatus Rickettsia moyalensis.

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<![CDATA[Fibroblast growth factor receptor-1 mediates internalization of pathogenic spotted fever rickettsiae into host endothelium]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5aafbfe6463d7e7cbd91358f

Rickettsial infections continue to cause serious morbidity and mortality in severe human cases around the world. Host cell adhesion and invasion is an essential requisite for intracellular growth, replication, and subsequent dissemination of pathogenic rickettsiae. Heparan sulfate proteoglycans [HSPGs] facilitate the interactions between fibroblast growth factor(s) and their tyrosine kinase receptors resulting in receptor dimerization/activation and have been implicated in bacterial adhesion to target host cells. In the present study, we have investigated the contributions of fibroblast growth factor receptors [FGFRs] in rickettsial entry into the host cells. Inhibition of HSPGs by heparinase and FGFRs by AZD4547 (a selective small-molecule inhibitor) results in significant reduction in rickettsial internalization into cultured human microvascular endothelial cells (ECs), which represent the primary targets of pathogenic rickettsiae during human infections. Administration of AZD4547 during R. conorii infection in a murine model of endothelial-target spotted fever rickettsiosis also diminishes pulmonary rickettsial burden in comparison to mock-treated controls. Silencing of FGFR1 expression using a small interfering RNA also leads to similar inhibition of R. rickettsii invasion into ECs. Consistent with these findings, R. rickettsii infection of ECs also results in phosphorylation of tyrosine 653/654, suggesting activation of FGFR1. Using isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation [iTRAQ]-based proteomics approach, we further demonstrate association of β-peptide of rickettsial outer membrane protein OmpA with FGFR1. Mechanistically, FGFR1 binds to caveolin-1 and mediates bacterial entry via caveolin-1 dependent endocytosis. Together, these results identify host cell FGFR1 and rickettsial OmpA as another novel receptor-ligand pair contributing to the internalization of pathogenic rickettsiae into host endothelial cells and the potential application of FGFR-inhibitor drugs as adjunct therapeutics against spotted fever rickettsioses.

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<![CDATA[Cutaneous Manifestations of Spotted Fever Rickettsial Infections in the Central Province of Sri Lanka: A Descriptive Study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daefab0ee8fa60bc0b0a

Background

Characteristic skin lesions play a key role in clinical diagnosis of spotted fever group rickettsioses and this study describes these cutaneous manifestations along with basic histological features.

Methods and Findings

Study was conducted at Medical Unit, Teaching Hospital, Peradeniya, from November 2009 to October 2011, where a prospective data base of all rickettsial infections is maintained. Confirmation of diagnosis was made when IgM and IgG immunofluorescent antibody titre of 1/32 and >1/256 respectively. Of the 210 clinical cases, 134 had cutoff antibody titers for Rickettsia conorii antigen for confirmation. All these 134 patients had fever and skin rash, and of them 132(98%) had discrete maculopapular rash while eight (6%) had fern leaf type skin necrosis. Eight patients (6%) had healed tick bite marks. Average size of a skin lesion was 5 mm and rash involved 52% of body surface, distributed mainly in limbs and back of the chest. Generally the facial and leg skin was slightly oedematous particularly in old aged patients. Sixteen patients (12%) had pain and swelling of ankle joints where swelling extended to feet and leg. Biopsies from skin rash of six patients showed evidence of cutaneous vasculitis and of them, 247 bp region of the 17-kDa spotted fever group specific protein antigen was amplified using PCR.

Conclusions

A discrete maculopapular rash and occasional variations such as fern leaf shape necrosis and arthritis are found in spotted fever group. Histology found vasculitis as the pathology of these lesions.

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<![CDATA[Differential Rickettsial Transcription in Bloodfeeding and Non-Bloodfeeding Arthropod Hosts]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db41ab0ee8fa60bd6f2f

Crucial factors influencing the epidemiology of Rickettsia felis rickettsiosis include pathogenesis and transmission. Detection of R. felis DNA in a number of arthropod species has been reported, with characterized isolates, R. felis strain LSU and strain LSU-Lb, generated from the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, and the non-hematophagous booklouse, Liposcelis bostrychophila, respectively. While it is realized that strain influence on host biology varies, the rickettsial response to these distinct host environments remained undefined. To identify a panel of potential rickettsial transmission determinants in the cat flea, the transcriptional profile for these two strains of R. felis were compared in their arthropod hosts using RNAseq. Rickettsial genes with increased transcription in the flea as compared to the booklouse were identified. Genes previously associated with bacterial virulence including LPS biosynthesis, Type IV secretion system, ABC transporters, and a toxin-antitoxin system were selected for further study. Transcription of putative virulence-associated genes was determined in a flea infection bioassay for both strains of R. felis. A host-dependent transcriptional profile during bloodfeeding, specifically, an increased expression of selected transcripts in newly infected cat fleas and flea feces was detected when compared to arthropod cell culture and incubation in vertebrate blood. Together, these studies have identified novel, host-dependent rickettsial factors that likely contribute to successful horizontal transmission by bloodfeeding arthropods.

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<![CDATA[Rickettsial Disease in the Peruvian Amazon Basin]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9e1ab0ee8fa60b69a9a

Using a large, passive, clinic-based surveillance program in Iquitos, Peru, we characterized the prevalence of rickettsial infections among undifferentiated febrile cases and obtained evidence of pathogen transmission in potential domestic reservoir contacts and their ectoparasites. Blood specimens from humans and animals were assayed for spotted fever group rickettsiae (SFGR) and typhus group rickettsiae (TGR) by ELISA and/or PCR; ectoparasites were screened by PCR. Logistic regression was used to determine associations between patient history, demographic characteristics of participants and symptoms, clinical findings and outcome of rickettsial infection. Of the 2,054 enrolled participants, almost 2% showed evidence of seroconversion or a 4-fold rise in antibody titers specific for rickettsiae between acute and convalescent blood samples. Of 190 fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) and 60 ticks (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) tested, 185 (97.4%) and 3 (5%), respectively, were positive for Rickettsia spp. Candidatus Rickettsia asemboensis was identified in 100% and 33% of the fleas and ticks tested, respectively. Collectively, our serologic data indicates that human pathogenic SFGR are present in the Peruvian Amazon and pose a significant risk of infection to individuals exposed to wild, domestic and peri-domestic animals and their ectoparasites.

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<![CDATA[Ixodes pacificus Ticks Maintain Embryogenesis and Egg Hatching after Antibiotic Treatment of Rickettsia Endosymbiont]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db02ab0ee8fa60bc7023

Rickettsia is a genus of intracellular bacteria that causes a variety of diseases in humans and other mammals and associates with a diverse group of arthropods. Although Rickettsia appears to be common in ticks, most Rickettsia-tick relationships remain generally uncharacterized. The most intimate of these associations is Rickettsia species phylotype G021, a maternally and transstadially transmitted endosymbiont that resides in 100% of I. pacificus in California. We investigated the effects of this Rickettsia phylotype on I. pacificus reproductive fitness using selective antibiotic treatment. Ciprofloxacin was 10-fold more effective than tetracycline in eliminating Rickettsia from I. pacificus, and quantitative PCR results showed that eggs from the ciprofloxacin-treated ticks contained an average of 0.02 Rickettsia per egg cell as opposed to the average of 0.2 in the tetracycline-treated ticks. Ampicillin did not significantly affect the number of Rickettsia per tick cell in adults or eggs compared to the water-injected control ticks. We found no relationship between tick embryogenesis and rickettsial density in engorged I. pacificus females. Tetracycline treatment significantly delayed oviposition of I. pacificus ticks, but the antibiotic’s effect was unlikely related to Rickettsia. We also demonstrated that Rickettsia-free eggs could successfully develop into larvae without any significant decrease in hatching compared to eggs containing Rickettsia. No significant differences in the incubation period, egg hatching rate, and the number of larvae were found between any of the antibiotic-treated groups and the water-injected tick control. We concluded that Rickettsia species phylotype G021 does not have an apparent effect on embryogenesis, oviposition, and egg hatching of I. pacificus.

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<![CDATA[The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) as a potential host for rickettsial pathogens in southern Italy]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdcb5e

Canine monocytic ehrlichiosis and rickettsiosis are zoonotic tick-borne diseases of canids caused by the intracellular obligate bacteria Ehrlichia canis and Rickettsia species respectively. In this study, we investigated using standard and real-time PCR and sequencing, the occurrence and molecular characterization of E. canis and Rickettsia species in the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) from the southern Italian population. Samples were screened by using molecular assays also for Neospora caninum, Toxoplasma gondii, Clamydophyla spp., Coxiella burnetii, Leishmania spp., Cryptosporidium spp., and Giardia spp. detection, and helminths were studied by traditional methods. Out of six carcasses tested, three were positive for E. canis and co-infection with Rickettsia sp. occurred in one of those. Sequences of the 16S rRNA E. canis gene were identical to each other but differed from most of those previously found in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and wolves (Canis lupus) from southern Italy. Helminths included just cystacanths of Sphaerirostris spp. from the intestine of two Eurasian otters and the nematode Angiostrongylus vasorum from the lungs of a single Eurasian otter. None of the samples was positive for the other investigated selected pathogens. This study is the first report on the evidence of infection by rickettsial pathogens in the Eurasian otter. The present result prompts some inquiries into the pathogenic role of those bacteria for the isolated sub-populations of the endangered Eurasian otter in southern Italy.

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<![CDATA[Wolbachia Has Two Different Localization Patterns in Whitefly Bemisia tabaci AsiaII7 Species]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da20ab0ee8fa60b7eb65

The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is a cosmopolitan insect species complex that harbors the obligate primary symbiont Portiera aleyrodidarum and several facultative secondary symbionts including Wolbachia, which have diverse influences on the host biology. Here, for the first time, we revealed two different localization patterns of Wolbachia present in the immature and adult stages of B. tabaci AsiaII7 cryptic species. In the confined pattern, Wolbachia was restricted to the bacteriocytes, while in the scattered pattern Wolbachia localized in the bacteriocytes, haemolymph and other organs simultaneously. Our results further indicated that, the proportion of B. tabaci AsiaII7 individuals with scattered Wolbachia were significantly lower than that of confined Wolbachia, and the distribution patterns of Wolbachia were not associated with the developmental stage or sex of whitefly host. This study will provide a new insight into the various transmission routes of Wolbachia in different whitefly species.

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<![CDATA[Development of Shuttle Vectors for Transformation of Diverse Rickettsia Species]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da1aab0ee8fa60b7c793

Plasmids have been identified in most species of Rickettsia examined, with some species maintaining multiple different plasmids. Three distinct plasmids were demonstrated in Rickettsia amblyommii AaR/SC by Southern analysis using plasmid specific probes. Copy numbers of pRAM18, pRAM23 and pRAM32 per chromosome in AaR/SC were estimated by real-time PCR to be 2.0, 1.9 and 1.3 respectively. Cloning and sequencing of R. amblyommii AaR/SC plasmids provided an opportunity to develop shuttle vectors for transformation of rickettsiae. A selection cassette encoding rifampin resistance and a fluorescent marker was inserted into pRAM18 yielding a 27.6 kbp recombinant plasmid, pRAM18/Rif/GFPuv. Electroporation of Rickettsia parkeri and Rickettsia bellii with pRAM18/Rif/GFPuv yielded GFPuv-expressing rickettsiae within 2 weeks. Smaller vectors, pRAM18dRG, pRAM18dRGA and pRAM32dRGA each bearing the same selection cassette, were made by moving the parA and dnaA-like genes from pRAM18 or pRAM32 into a vector backbone. R. bellii maintained the highest numbers of pRAM18dRGA (13.3 – 28.1 copies), and R. parkeri, Rickettsia monacensis and Rickettsia montanensis contained 9.9, 5.5 and 7.5 copies respectively. The same species transformed with pRAM32dRGA maintained 2.6, 2.5, 3.2 and 3.6 copies. pRM, the plasmid native to R. monacensis, was still present in shuttle vector transformed R. monacensis at a level similar to that found in wild type R. monacensis after 15 subcultures. Stable transformation of diverse rickettsiae was achieved with a shuttle vector system based on R. amblyommii plasmids pRAM18 and pRAM32, providing a new research tool that will greatly facilitate genetic and biological studies of rickettsiae.

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<![CDATA[Assessment of Domestic Goats as Models for Experimental and Natural Infection with the North American Isolate of Rickettsia slovaca]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da4eab0ee8fa60b8d4c2

Rickettsia slovaca is a tick-borne human pathogen that is associated with scalp eschars and neck lymphadenopathy known as tick-borne lymphadenopathy (TIBOLA) or Dermacentor-borne necrosis erythema and lymphadenopathy (DEBONEL). Originally, R. slovaca was described in Eastern Europe, but since recognition of its pathogenicity, human cases have been reported throughout Europe. European vertebrate reservoirs of R. slovaca remain unknown, but feral swine and domestic goats have been found infected or seropositive for this pathogen. Recently, a rickettsial pathogen identical to R. slovaca was identified in, and isolated from, the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis. In previous experimental studies, this organism was found infectious to guinea pigs and transovarially transmissible in ticks. In this study, domestic goats (Capra hircus) were experimentally inoculated with the North American isolate of this R. slovaca-like agent to assess their reservoir competence–the ability to acquire the pathogens and maintain transmission between infected and uninfected ticks. Goats were susceptible to infection as demonstrated by detection of the pathogen in skin biopsies and multiple internal tissues, but the only clinical sign of illness was transient fever noted in three out of four goats, and reactive lymphoid hyperplasia. On average, less than 5% of uninfected ticks acquired the pathogen while feeding upon infected goats. Although domestic goats are susceptible to the newly described North American isolate of R. slovaca, they are likely to play a minor role in the natural transmission cycle of this pathogen. Our results suggest that goats do not propagate the North American isolate of R. slovaca in peridomestic environments and clinical diagnosis of infection could be difficult due to the brevity and mildness of clinical signs. Further research is needed to elucidate the natural transmission cycle of R. slovaca both in Europe and North America, as well as to identify a more suitable laboratory model.

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<![CDATA[Identification of Anaplasma marginale Type IV Secretion System Effector Proteins]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db41ab0ee8fa60bd6d81

Background

Anaplasma marginale, an obligate intracellular alphaproteobacterium in the order Rickettsiales, is a tick-borne pathogen and the leading cause of anaplasmosis in cattle worldwide. Complete genome sequencing of A. marginale revealed that it has a type IV secretion system (T4SS). The T4SS is one of seven known types of secretion systems utilized by bacteria, with the type III and IV secretion systems particularly prevalent among pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria. The T4SS is predicted to play an important role in the invasion and pathogenesis of A. marginale by translocating effector proteins across its membrane into eukaryotic target cells. However, T4SS effector proteins have not been identified and tested in the laboratory until now.

Results

By combining computational methods with phylogenetic analysis and sequence identity searches, we identified a subset of potential T4SS effectors in A. marginale strain St. Maries and chose six for laboratory testing. Four (AM185, AM470, AM705 [AnkA], and AM1141) of these six proteins were translocated in a T4SS-dependent manner using Legionella pneumophila as a reporter system.

Conclusions

The algorithm employed to find T4SS effector proteins in A. marginale identified four such proteins that were verified by laboratory testing. L. pneumophila was shown to work as a model system for A. marginale and thus can be used as a screening tool for A. marginale effector proteins. The first T4SS effector proteins for A. marginale have been identified in this work.

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