The taxonomic status of the brown dog tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus ( sensu stricto) is a subject of on-going debate; there is a consensus that populations of this tick species should be referred to as R. sanguineus ( sensu lato) until its taxonomic status is resolved. Recent genetic studies revealed the existence of more than one lineage of R. sanguineus ( s.l.) in temperate countries. In this study, we assessed the genetic identity of ticks collected from rural dogs living in several areas located in all major geographical regions of Portugal.
A total of 347 ticks were collected from rural dogs living in different regions of Portugal. These ticks were morphologically identified and partial mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene sequences (~300 bp) were obtained from representative specimens.
The ticks were morphologically identified as Ixodes ricinus (seven males and 27 females), Rhipicephalus bursa (one male), Rhipicephalus pusillus (one female) and R. sanguineus ( s.l.) (two larvae, 101 nymphs, 108 males and 100 females). Partial mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene sequences were obtained from 58 R. sanguineus ( s.l.) specimens, and all of them were genetically identified as belonging to the so-called temperate lineage of R. sanguineus ( s.l.)
These results strongly suggest that the temperate species of R. sanguineus ( s.l.) is the only representative of this tick group found on dogs in Portugal. It also adds weight to the hypothesis that Rhipicephalus turanicus is not present in this country, although further investigations are necessary to confirm this.