The tick-borne bacterium
The tick-borne bacterium
BackgroundUntil recently, Amblyomma cajennense (Fabricius, 1787) was considered to represent a single tick species in the New World. Recent studies have split this taxon into six species. While the A. cajennense species complex or A. cajennense (sensu lato) (s.l.) is currently represented by two species in Brazil, A. cajennense (sensu stricto) (s.s.) and Amblyomma sculptum Berlese, 1888, their geographical distribution is poorly known.MethodsThe distribution of the A. cajennense (s.l.) in Brazil was determined by morphological examination of all lots of A. cajennense (s.l.) in two large tick collections of Brazil, and by collecting new material during three field expeditions in the possible transition areas between the distribution ranges of A. cajennense (s.s.) and A. sculptum. Phylogenetic analysis inferred from the ITS2 rRNA gene was used to validate morphological results. Morphological description of the nymphal stage of A. cajennense (s.s.) is provided based on laboratory-reared specimens.ResultsFrom the tick collections, a total 12,512 adult ticks were examined and identified as 312 A. cajennense (s.s.), 6,252 A. sculptum and 5,948 A. cajennense (s.l.). A total of 1,746 ticks from 77 localities were collected during field expeditions, and were identified as 249 A. cajennense (s.s.), 443 A. sculptum, and 1,054 A. cajennense (s.l.) [these A. cajennense (s.l.) ticks were considered to be males of either A. cajennense (s.s.) or A. sculptum]. At least 23 localities contained the presence of both A. cajennense (s.s.) and A. sculptum in sympatry. DNA sequences of the ITS2 gene of 50 ticks from 30 localities confirmed the results of the morphological analyses. The nymph of A. cajennense (s.s.) is morphologically very similar to A. sculptum.ConclusionOur results confirmed that A. cajennense (s.l.) is currently represented in Brazil by only two species, A. cajennense (s.s.) and A. sculptum. While these species have distinct distribution areas in the country, they are found in sympatry in some transition areas. The current distribution of A. cajennense (s.l.) has important implications to public health, since in Brazil A. sculptum is the most important vector of the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii, the etiological agent of Brazilian spotted fever.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13071-016-1460-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
This study compared the vector competence of four populations of Rhipicephalus sanguineus group ticks for the bacterium Ehrlichia canis, the agent of canine monocytic ehrlichiosis (CME). Ticks (larvae and nymphs) from the four populations—one from São Paulo state, southeastern Brazil (BSP), one from Rio Grande do Sul state, southern Brazil (BRS), one from Argentina (ARG), and one from Uruguay (URU)–were exposed to E. canis infection by feeding on dogs that were experimentally infected with E. canis. Engorged ticks (larvae and nymphs) were allowed to molt to nymphs and adults, respectively, which were tested by molecular analysis (E. canis-specific PCR assay) and used to infest naïve dogs. Through infestation of adult ticks on naïve dogs, after nymphal acquisition feeding on E. canis-infected dogs, only the BSP population was shown to be competent vectors of E. canis, i.e., only the dogs infested with BSP adult ticks developed clinical illness, seroconverted to E. canis, and yielded E. canis DNA by PCR. This result, demonstrated by two independent replications, is congruent with epidemiological data, since BSP ticks were derived from São Paulo state, Brazil, where CME is highly endemic. On the other hand, BRS, ARG, and URU ticks were derived from a geographical region (South America southern cone) where CME has never been properly documented. Molecular analysis of unfed adults at 30 days post molting support these transmission results, since none of the BRS, ARG, and URU ticks were PCR positive, whereas 1% of the BSP nymphs and 31.8% of the BSP adults contained E. canis DNA. We conclude that the absence or scarcity of cases of CME due to E. canis in the South America southern cone is a result of vector incompetence of the R. sanguineus group ticks that prevail on dogs in this part of South America.
BackgroundBrazilian spotted fever (BSF), caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii, has been associated with the transmission by the tick Amblyomma sculptum, and one of its main hosts, the capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris).MethodsDuring 2015–2019, we captured capybaras and ticks in seven highly anthropic areas of São Paulo state (three endemic and four nonendemic for BSF) and in two natural areas of the Pantanal biome, all with established populations of capybaras.ResultsThe BSF-endemic areas were characterized by much higher tick burdens on both capybaras and in the environment, when compared to the BSF-nonendemic areas. Only two tick species (A. sculptum and Amblyomma dubitatum) were found in the anthropic areas; however, with a great predominance of A. sculptum (≈90% of all ticks) in the endemic areas, in contrast to a slight predominance of A. dubitatum (≈60%) in the nonendemic areas. Tick species richness was higher in the natural areas, where six species were found, albeit with a predominance of A. sculptum (≈95% of all ticks) and environmental tick burdens much lower than in the anthropic areas. The BSF-endemic areas were characterized by overgrowth populations of A. sculptum that were sustained chiefly by capybaras, and decreased populations of A. dubitatum. In contrast, the BSF-nonendemic areas with landscape similar to the endemic areas differed by having lower tick burdens and a slight predominance of A. dubitatum over A.sculptum, both sustained chiefly by capybaras. While multiple medium- to large-sized mammals have been incriminated as important hosts for A. sculptum in the natural areas, the capybara was the only important host for this tick in the anthropic areas.ConclusionsThe uneven distribution of R. rickettsii infection among A. sculptum populations in highly anthropic areas of São Paulo state could be related to the tick population size and its proportion to sympatric A. dubitatum populations.
Ticks are obligate blood feeding ectoparasites that transmit a wide variety of pathogenic microorganisms to their vertebrate hosts. Amblyomma sculptum is vector of Rickettsia rickettsii, the causative agent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), the most lethal rickettsiosis that affects humans. It is known that the transmission of pathogens by ticks is mainly associated with the physiology of the feeding process. Pathogens that are acquired with the blood meal must first colonize the tick gut and later the salivary glands (SG) in order to be transmitted during a subsequent blood feeding via saliva. Tick saliva contains a complex mixture of bioactive molecules with anticlotting, antiplatelet aggregation, vasodilatory, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties to counteract both the hemostasis and defense mechanisms of the host. Besides facilitating tick feeding, the properties of saliva may also benefits survival and establishment of pathogens in the host. In the current study, we compared the sialotranscriptome of unfed A. sculptum ticks and those fed for 72 h on rabbits using next generation RNA sequencing (RNA-seq). The total of reads obtained were assembled in 9,560 coding sequences (CDSs) distributed in different functional classes. CDSs encoding secreted proteins, including lipocalins, mucins, protease inhibitors, glycine-rich proteins, metalloproteases, 8.9 kDa superfamily members, and immunity-related proteins were mostly upregulated by blood feeding. Selected CDSs were analyzed by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction preceded by reverse transcription (RT-qPCR), corroborating the transcriptional profile obtained by RNA-seq. Finally, high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis revealed 124 proteins in saliva of ticks fed for 96–120 h. The corresponding CDSs of 59 of these proteins were upregulated in SG of fed ticks. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the proteome of A. sculptum saliva. The functional characterization of the identified proteins might reveal potential targets to develop vaccines for tick control and/or blocking of R. rickettsii transmission as well as pharmacological bioproducts with antihemostatic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial activities.
From 2005 to 2012, ticks were collected from different hosts at different localities of the state of Rondônia. The following 16 ixodid tick species were identified: Ixodes fuscipes, Amblyomma auricularium, Amblyomma coelebs, Amblyomma dubitatum, Amblyomma geayi, Amblyomma humerale, Amblyomma latepunctatum, Amblyomma longirostre, Amblyomma naponense, Amblyomma nodosum, Amblyomma oblongoguttatum, Amblyomma ovale, Amblyomma romitii, Amblyomma rotundatum, Amblyomma scalpturatum, and Amblyomma varium. From these, A. auricularium, A. dubitatum, and A. geayi are reported for the first time in the state of Rondônia. We provide the following tick-host associations that have not been reported anywhere: A. longirostre on Pteroglossus bitorquatus, A. rotundatum on Hydrodynastes gigas, and A. latepunctatum and A. scalpturatum on Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris. An adult male specimen of A. rotundatum is reported on Boa constrictor, comprising only the fourth male specimen to be recorded for this obligate parthenogenetic tick species. We also report the presence of the argasid species Ornithodoros kohlsi for the first time in Brazil, based on larval specimens collected on bats Molossops (Neoplatymops) mattogrossensis in Monte Negro, Rondônia. The present study increases the Brazilian tick fauna to 65 species, from which 34 species (52 %) are now registered to Rondônia. Such high diversity of ticks in a relatively small state, associated with increasing environmental alteration due to deforestation and human occupation, makes Rondônia a potential source of tick-borne diseases.
O macaco-prego, Cebus apella, é muito difundido no norte e sul da Amazônia Legal Brasileira e no Cerrado. Estes animais encontram-se rotineiramente submetidos à caça predatória, aumentando assim a necessidade de preservação desta espécie silvestre. Realizou-se um estudo ultra-sonográfico de 10 macacos-prego como forma de descrever a anatomia ultra-sonográfica normal de sua cavidade abdominal. A vesícula urinária apresentou parede com espessura média 0,2cm e em posição anatômica cuja topografia permitiu contato com as paredes do corpo do útero e cólon descendente. À varredura abdominal caudal foi visualizada a aorta, veia cava caudal e veia ilíaca direita. O fígado foi visto em varredura sagital e transversal, possibilitando a observação da vesícula biliar e vasos hepáticos. A varredura renal demonstrou com precisão a pelve, seio renal e relação cortico-medular. O comprimento médio de ambos os rins foi de 6,24±0,31cm, não existindo diferença estatística entre o rim direito e esquerdo (Teste t de Student e ANOVA). O volume renal foi 2,37±0,18cm³. Os coeficientes de Correlação de Pearson entre os comprimentos renais direito e esquerdo e entre volumes renais direito e esquerdo foram dispostos como r = 0,74 e 0,51. As espessuras médias para a região cortical e medular foram 0,75±0,11cm e 0,39±0,06cm, respectivamente. O coeficiente de correlação para a relação cortico-medular entre os rins direito e esquerdo foi de r = 0,19. O exame ultrasonográfico mostrou-se como uma técnica eficiente, nãoinvasiva, rápida e reprodutível, que provê dados importantes aos profissionais da área de clínica e cirurgia de animais silvestres.
BackgroundRickettsia rickettsii is vectored by ticks, and some vertebrate hosts can be sources of infection to ticks during bacteremic periods. In Brazil, the main vector for R. rickettsii is the tick Amblyomma sculptum, a member of the A. cajennense complex. Horses, in turn, are one of the major hosts for A. sculptum. In this study, horses experimentally infected with R. rickettsii were assessed for clinical changes and their capability to transmit the infection to A. sculptum ticks.MethodsFour horses were infected with R. rickettsii through either intraperitoneal injection or infestation with R. rickettsii-infected A. sculptum ticks. Simultaneously, the animals were infested with non-infected A. sculptum ticks. The horses were monitored for 30 days by clinical examination, hematological and biochemical tests, real-time PCR of blood for the detection of Rickettsia, and inoculation of blood in guinea pigs. IgG antibody titers were followed until the horses have shown seronegativity or until the end of the experiment. Uninfected ticks that fed on horses were subjected to real-time PCR and/or were fed on susceptible rabbits.ResultsThe horses showed no clinical, hematological or blood biochemical alterations, and bacteremia was not detected by real-time PCR or by inoculation of horse blood into guinea pigs. Anti-R. rickettsii antibodies were detected in horses from 10 days to 2 years after infection. Uninfected ticks, after feeding on infected horses, showed 2.1 % positivity in real-time PCR, but failed to transmit the infection to rabbits at a next feeding stage.ConclusionsRickettsia rickettsii-infected horses did not manifest illness and are not competent amplifier hosts of R. rickettsii for A. sculptum ticks.
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