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      Bacterial microbiomes of Ixodes scapularis ticks collected from Massachusetts and Texas, USA

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          Abstract

          Background

          The blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, is the primary vector of the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi in North America. Though the tick is found across the eastern United States, Lyme disease is endemic to the northeast and upper midwest and rare or absent in the southern portion of the vector’s range. In an effort to better understand the tick microbiome from diverse geographic and climatic regions, we analysed the bacterial community of 115 I. scapularis adults collected from vegetation in Texas and Massachusetts, representing extreme ends of the vector’s range, by massively parallel sequencing of the 16S V4 rRNA gene. In addition, 7 female I. scapularis collected from dogs in Texas were included in the study.

          Results

          Male I. scapularis ticks had a more diverse bacterial microbiome in comparison to the female ticks. Rickettsia spp. dominated the microbiomes of field-collected female I. scapularis from both regions, as well as half of the males from Texas. In addition, the male and female ticks captured from Massachusetts contained high proportions of the pathogens Anaplasma and Borrelia, as well as the arthropod endosymbiont Wolbachia. None of these were found in libraries generated from ticks collected in Texas. Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter and Mycobacterium were significantly differently abundant ( p < 0.05) between the male ticks from Massachusetts and Texas. Anaplasma and Borrelia were found in 15 and 63% of the 62 Massachusetts ticks, respectively, with a co-infection rate of 11%. Female ticks collected from Texas dogs were particularly diverse, and contained several genera including Rickettsia, Pseudomonas, Bradyrhizobium, Sediminibacterium, and Ralstonia.

          Conclusions

          Our results indicate that the bacterial microbiomes of I. scapularis ticks vary by sex and geography, with significantly more diversity in male microbiomes compared to females. We found that sex plays a larger role than geography in shaping the composition/diversity of the I. scapularis microbiome, but that geography affects what additional taxa are represented (beyond Rickettsia) and whether pathogens are found. Furthermore, recent feeding may have a role in shaping the tick microbiome, as evident from a more complex bacterial community in female ticks from dogs compared to the wild-caught questing females. These findings may provide further insight into the differences in the ability of the ticks to acquire, maintain and transmit pathogens. Future studies on possible causes and consequences of these differences will shed additional light on tick microbiome biology and vector competence.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (10.1186/s12866-019-1514-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 69

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          Introducing mothur: open-source, platform-independent, community-supported software for describing and comparing microbial communities.

          mothur aims to be a comprehensive software package that allows users to use a single piece of software to analyze community sequence data. It builds upon previous tools to provide a flexible and powerful software package for analyzing sequencing data. As a case study, we used mothur to trim, screen, and align sequences; calculate distances; assign sequences to operational taxonomic units; and describe the alpha and beta diversity of eight marine samples previously characterized by pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA gene fragments. This analysis of more than 222,000 sequences was completed in less than 2 h with a laptop computer.
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            UCHIME improves sensitivity and speed of chimera detection

            Motivation: Chimeric DNA sequences often form during polymerase chain reaction amplification, especially when sequencing single regions (e.g. 16S rRNA or fungal Internal Transcribed Spacer) to assess diversity or compare populations. Undetected chimeras may be misinterpreted as novel species, causing inflated estimates of diversity and spurious inferences of differences between populations. Detection and removal of chimeras is therefore of critical importance in such experiments. Results: We describe UCHIME, a new program that detects chimeric sequences with two or more segments. UCHIME either uses a database of chimera-free sequences or detects chimeras de novo by exploiting abundance data. UCHIME has better sensitivity than ChimeraSlayer (previously the most sensitive database method), especially with short, noisy sequences. In testing on artificial bacterial communities with known composition, UCHIME de novo sensitivity is shown to be comparable to Perseus. UCHIME is >100× faster than Perseus and >1000× faster than ChimeraSlayer. Contact: robert@drive5.com Availability: Source, binaries and data: http://drive5.com/uchime. Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
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              Greengenes, a chimera-checked 16S rRNA gene database and workbench compatible with ARB.

              A 16S rRNA gene database (http://greengenes.lbl.gov) addresses limitations of public repositories by providing chimera screening, standard alignment, and taxonomic classification using multiple published taxonomies. It was found that there is incongruent taxonomic nomenclature among curators even at the phylum level. Putative chimeras were identified in 3% of environmental sequences and in 0.2% of records derived from isolates. Environmental sequences were classified into 100 phylum-level lineages in the Archaea and Bacteria.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                st0404@live.unthsc.edu
                yan.zhang@unthsc.edu
                michael.allen@unthsc.edu
                Journal
                BMC Microbiol
                BMC Microbiol
                BMC Microbiology
                BioMed Central (London )
                1471-2180
                24 June 2019
                24 June 2019
                2019
                : 19
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0000 9765 6057, GRID grid.266871.c, Tick Borne Disease Research Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics, , University of North Texas Health Science Center, ; Fort Worth, TX USA
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2200 2638, GRID grid.416975.8, Present Address: Texas Children’s Microbiome Center, Department of Pathology, , Texas Children’s Hospital, ; Houston, TX USA
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2160 926X, GRID grid.39382.33, Present Address: Department of Pathology and Immunology, , Baylor College of Medicine, ; Houston, TX USA
                1514
                10.1186/s12866-019-1514-7
                6591839
                31234774
                © The Author(s). 2019

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funding
                Funded by: University of North Texas Health Science Center
                Categories
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2019

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