Identification of host blood-meal sources and Borrelia in field-collected Ixodes ricinus ticks in north-western Poland
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Department of Genetics, University of Szczecin, Poland
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Beata Wodecka   

Department of Genetics, University of Scecin, Felczaka 3c, 71-412 Szczecin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2016;23(1):59-63
Forest animals play fundamental roles in the maintenance of Ixodes ricinus and Borrelia 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 Borrelia species, the blood-meal of 325 I. ricinus 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. ricinus 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 (Sus scrofa), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), red deer (Cervus elaphus) and roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). Identification of Borrelia species was based on the flaB gene using nested PCR coupled to RFLP. This method allows the identification of all Borrelia species transmitted by I. ricinus in Europe, including B. miyamotoi and 3 genetic variants of B. garinii. In the studied isolates, 2 species belonging to B. burgdorferi sensu lato were identified – B. garinii and B. afzelii, and B. miyamotoi, which are related to relapsing fever borreliae.
The research was supported financially by Grant No. N N303 806140 from the National Science Centre, Kraków, Poland.
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