The soft tick Argas japonicus mainly infests birds and can cause human dermatitis; however, no pathogen has been identified from this tick species in China. In the present study, the microbiota in A. japonicus collected from an epidemic community was explored, and some putative Rickettsia pathogens were further characterized. The results obtained indicated that bacteria in A. japonicus were mainly ascribed to the phyla Proteobacteria, Firmicutes and Actinobacteria. At the genus level, the male A. japonicus harboured more diverse bacteria than the females and nymphs. The bacteria Alcaligenes, Pseudomonas, Rickettsia and Staphylococcus were common in nymphs and adults. The abundance of bacteria belonging to the Rickettsia genus in females and males was 7.27% and 10.42%, respectively. Furthermore, the 16S rRNA gene of Rickettsia was amplified and sequenced, and phylogenetic analysis revealed that 13 sequences were clustered with the spotted fever group rickettsiae (Rickettsia heilongjiangensis and Rickettsia japonica) and three were clustered with Rickettsia limoniae, which suggested that the characterized Rickettsia in A. japonicus were novel putative pathogens and also that the residents were at considerable risk for infection by tick-borne pathogens. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.
Journal: Medical and veterinary entomology