Identification of host blood-meal sources and Borrelia in field-collected Ixodes ricinus ticks in north-western Poland

Beata Wodecka 1,  
Department of Genetics, University of Szczecin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2016;23(1):59–63
Forest animals play fundamental roles in the maintenance of [i]Ixodes ricinus[/i] and [i]Borrelia[/i] species in the forest biotope. To identify the forest vertebrate species that are host for I. ricinus and for the recognition of the reservoirs of [i]Borrelia[/i] species, the blood-meal of 325 [i]I. ricinus[/i] ticks collected at two forest sites in north-western Poland were analysed. Nested PCR was used to detect polymorphisms in a fragment of the mitochondrial 12S rRNA gene for the identification of the hosts species. The products were digested with the restriction enzymes, a combination that allows the identification of 60 vertebrate species, comprising 17 bird, 4 reptile and 39 mammalian species. Host DNA was detected in 244 (75%)[i] I. ricinus[/i] individuals, with the species being detected and classified for 210 (86%) samples. The restriction patterns resulted in the identification of 14 vertebrate species, including 2 species of birds, lizard, badger, rabbit, deer; most of the samples contained DNA from wild boar ([i]Sus scrofa[/i]), red fox ([i]Vulpes vulpes[/i]), red deer ([i]Cervus elaphus[/i]) and roe deer ([i]Capreolus capreolus[/i]). Identification of Borrelia species was based on the flaB gene using nested PCR coupled to RFLP. This method allows the identification of all [i]Borrelia[/i] species transmitted by [i]I. ricinus [/i]in Europe, including [i]B. miyamotoi[/i] and 3 genetic variants of [i]B. garinii[/i]. In the studied isolates, 2 species belonging to [i]B. burgdorferi[/i] sensu lato were identified – B. [i]garinii [/i]and B. [i]afzelii[/i], and B. [i]miyamotoi,[/i] which are related to relapsing fever borreliae.