Turkey tick news: A molecular investigation into the presence of tick-borne pathogens in host-seeking ticks in Anatolia; Initial evidence of putative vectors and pathogens, and footsteps of a secretly rising vector tick, Haemaphysalis parva.
[CanLyme Note: The title may mislead some to believe they are studying a turkey tick. This is a study of ticks in the country of Turkey.]
This Turkey-based study investigated the presence of various tick-borne microorganisms in a broad-range of host-seeking ticks (n = 1019) that exhibit both hunter and ambusher characteristics. All collected ticks were analyzed individually via PCR-sequencing, resulting in the identification of 18 different microorganisms: six Babesia spp., including one putative novel species (Ba. occultans, Ba. crassa, Ba. rossi, Babesia sp. tavsan1, Babesia sp. tavsan2, and Babesia sp. nov.); six SFG rickettsiae (Ri. aeschlimannii, Ri. s. mongolitimonae, Ri. slovaca, Ri. raoultii, Ri. monacensis, and Ri. hoogstraalii); two Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato spp. (Bo. afzelii and Bo. lusitaniae); two unnamed Hepatozoon spp.; Theileria annulata; and Hemolivia mauritanica. This provided evidence for the natural transstadial survival of these tick-borne microorganisms in adult ticks (in addition a nymph) of Turkey. Surprisingly, this study determined the presence of five different microorganisms (Ba. crassa, Ba. rossi, Babesia sp. Ucbas, Hepatozoon sp., and Ri. hoogstraalii) in host-seeking Haemaphysalis parva adults, for which poor data exist on its vectorial competence. Therefore, this study provides important data indicating the potential vectorial capacity of Ha. parva. This study also revealed the presence of the close ecological and evolutionary relationships between two important vector ticks, Hyalomma marginatum and Hy. aegyptium and determined genetic variations (distinct phylogenetic divergences inside the main clades) in some pathogenic SFG rickettsiae that are found in these ticks. Additionally, the presence of two Babesia species described very recently in hares with unknown vectors, namely Babesia sp. tavsan1 and Babesia sp. tavsan2, were detected for the first time in ticks. Finally, two unnamed Hepatozoon spp. were detected in Haemaphysalis ticks and their phylogenetic positions were demonstrated. Consequently, this study provides important data on the diversity of tick-borne microorganisms in host-seeking ticks and on potentially novel microorganisms (Babesia and Hepatozoon species) and their possible vectors (Ha. parva, Ha. sulcata, Hy. aegyptium, Hy. marginatum, and Rh. turanicus).