September 22, 2019  |  

The bacterial microbiome of Dermacentor andersoni ticks influences pathogen susceptibility.

Ticks are of medical importance owing to their ability to transmit pathogens to humans and animals. The Rocky Mountain wood tick, Dermacentor andersoni, is a vector of a number of pathogens, including Anaplasma marginale, which is the most widespread tick-borne pathogen of livestock. Although ticks host pathogenic bacteria, they also harbor bacterial endosymbionts that have a role in tick physiology, survival, as well as pathogen acquisition and transmission. The goal of this study was to characterize the bacterial microbiome and examine the impact of microbiome disruption on pathogen susceptibility. The bacterial microbiome of two populations of D. andersoni with historically different susceptibilities to A. marginale was characterized. In this study, the microbiome was disrupted and then ticks were exposed to A. marginale or Francisella novicida to determine whether the microbiome correlated with pathogen susceptibility. Our study showed that an increase in proportion and quantity of Rickettsia bellii in the microbiome was negatively correlated to A. marginale levels in ticks. Furthermore, a decrease in Francisella endosymbionts was associated with lower F. novicida infection levels, demonstrating a positive pathogen-endosymbiont relationship. We demonstrate that endosymbionts and pathogens have varying interactions, and suggest that microbiome manipulation may provide a possible method for biocontrol by decreasing pathogen susceptibility of ticks.

September 22, 2019  |  

Recent insights into the tick microbiome gained through next-generation sequencing.

The tick microbiome comprises communities of microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria and eukaryotes, and is being elucidated through modern molecular techniques. The advent of next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies has enabled the genes and genomes within these microbial communities to be explored in a rapid and cost-effective manner. The advantages of using NGS to investigate microbiomes surpass the traditional non-molecular methods that are limited in their sensitivity, and conventional molecular approaches that are limited in their scalability. In recent years the number of studies using NGS to investigate the microbial diversity and composition of ticks has expanded. Here, we provide a review of NGS strategies for tick microbiome studies and discuss the recent findings from tick NGS investigations, including the bacterial diversity and composition, influential factors, and implications of the tick microbiome.

September 22, 2019  |  

Primordial origin and diversification of plasmids in Lyme disease agent bacteria.

With approximately one-third of their genomes consisting of linear and circular plasmids, the Lyme disease agent cluster of species has the most complex genomes among known bacteria. We report here a comparative analysis of plasmids in eleven Borreliella (also known as Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato) species.We sequenced the complete genomes of two B. afzelii, two B. garinii, and individual B. spielmanii, B. bissettiae, B. valaisiana and B. finlandensis isolates. These individual isolates carry between seven and sixteen plasmids, and together harbor 99 plasmids. We report here a comparative analysis of these plasmids, along with 70 additional Borreliella plasmids available in the public sequence databases. We identify only one new putative plasmid compatibility type (the 30th) among these 169 plasmid sequences, suggesting that all or nearly all such types have now been discovered. We find that the linear plasmids in the non-B. burgdorferi species have undergone the same kinds of apparently random, chaotic rearrangements mediated by non-homologous recombination that we previously discovered in B. burgdorferi. These rearrangements occurred independently in the different species lineages, and they, along with an expanded chromosomal phylogeny reported here, allow the identification of several whole plasmid transfer events among these species. Phylogenetic analyses of the plasmid partition genes show that a majority of the plasmid compatibility types arose early, most likely before separation of the Lyme agent Borreliella and relapsing fever Borrelia clades, and this, with occasional cross species plasmid transfers, has resulted in few if any species-specific or geographic region-specific Borreliella plasmid types.The primordial origin and persistent maintenance of the Borreliella plasmid types support their functional indispensability as well as evolutionary roles in facilitating genome diversity. The improved resolution of Borreliella plasmid phylogeny based on conserved partition-gene clusters will lead to better determination of gene orthology which is essential for prediction of biological function, and it will provide a basis for inferring detailed evolutionary mechanisms of Borreliella genomic variability including homologous gene and plasmid exchanges as well as non-homologous rearrangements.

September 22, 2019  |  

Whole genome sequence and comparative analysis of Borrelia burgdorferi MM1.

Lyme disease is caused by spirochaetes of the Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato genospecies. Complete genome assemblies are available for fewer than ten strains of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, the primary cause of Lyme disease in North America. MM1 is a sensu stricto strain originally isolated in the midwestern United States. Aside from a small number of genes, the complete genome sequence of this strain has not been reported. Here we present the complete genome sequence of MM1 in relation to other sensu stricto strains and in terms of its Multi Locus Sequence Typing. Our results indicate that MM1 is a new sequence type which contains a conserved main chromosome and 15 plasmids. Our results include the first contiguous 28.5 kb assembly of lp28-8, a linear plasmid carrying the vls antigenic variation system, from a Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto strain.

September 22, 2019  |  

Genome-wide analysis of Borrelia turcica and ‘Candidatus Borrelia tachyglossi’ shows relapsing fever-like genomes with unique genomic links to Lyme disease Borrelia.

Borrelia are tick-borne bacteria that in humans are the aetiological agents of Lyme disease and relapsing fever. Here we present the first genomes of B. turcica and B. tachyglossi, members of a recently described and rapidly expanding Borrelia clade associated with reptile (B. turcica) or echidna (B. tachyglossi) hosts, transmitted by hard ticks, and of unknown pathogenicity. Borrelia tachyglossi and B. turcica genomes are similar to those of relapsing fever Borrelia species, containing a linear ~ 900?kb chromosome, a single long (> 70?kb) linear plasmid, and numerous short (< 40?kb) linear and circular plasmids, as well as a suite of housekeeping and macronutrient biosynthesis genes which are not found in Lyme disease Borrelia. Additionally, both B. tachyglossi and B. turcica contain paralogous vsp and vlp proteins homologous to those used in the multiphasic antigen-switching system used by relapsing fever Borrelia to evade vertebrate immune responses, although their number was greatly reduced compared to human-infectious species. However, B. tachyglossi and B. turcica chromosomes also contain numerous genes orthologous to Lyme disease Borrelia-specific genes, demonstrating a unique evolutionary, and potentially phenotypic link between these groups. Borrelia tachyglossi and B. turcica genomes also have unique genetic features, including degraded and deleted tRNA modification genes, and an expanded range of macronutrient salvage and biosynthesis genes compared to relapsing fever and Lyme disease Borrelia. These genomes and genomic comparisons provide an insight into the biology and evolutionary origin of these Borrelia, and provide a valuable resource for future work. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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