Multilocus sequence analysis of Borrelia bissettii strains from North America reveals a new Borrelia species, Borrelia kurtenbachii

Gabriele Margos,a,* Andrias Hojgaard,b Robert S. Lane,c Muriel Cornet,d Volker Fingerle,e Nataliia Rudenko,f Nicholas Ogden,g David M. Aanensen,h Durland Fish,i and Joseph Piesman,b


Using multilocus sequence analyses (MLSA), we investigated the phylogenetic relationship of spirochaete strains from North America previously assigned to the genospecies Borrelia bissettii. We amplified internal fragments of 8 housekeeping genes (clpA, clpX, nifS, pepX, pyrG, recG, rplB, and uvrA) located on the main linear chromosome by polymerase chain reaction. Phylogenetic analysis of concatenated sequences of the 8 loci showed that the B. bissettii clade consisted of 4 closely related clusters which included strains from California (including the type strain DN127-Cl9-2/p7) and Colorado that were isolated from Ixodes pacificus, I. spinipalpis, or infected reservoir hosts. Several strains isolated from I. scapularis clustered distantly from B. bissettii. Genetic distance analyses confirmed that these strains are more distant to B. bissettii than they are to B. carolinensis, a recently described Borrelia species, which suggests that they constitute a new Borrelia genospecies. We propose that it be named Borrelia kurtenbachii sp. nov. in honour of the late Klaus Kurtenbach. The data suggest that ecological differences between B. bissettii and the new Borrelia genospecies reflect different transmission cycles. In view of these findings, the distinct vertebrate host-tick vector associations and the distributions of B. bissettii and B. kurtenbachii require further investigation.

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