Detection of a Spotted Fever Group Rickettsia in the Tick Ixodes tasmani Collected from Koalas in Port Macquarie, Australia
INGER-MARIE E. VILCINS,1 JULIE M. OLD,2 AND ELIZABETH M. DEANE1,3
1 Department of Biological Sciences, Division of Environmental and Life Sciences, Macquarie University, 2109, NSW, Australia.
2 School of Natural Sciences, University of Western Sydney, NSW, Australia.
3 Corresponding author, e-mail: .
Four species of Rickettsia are recognized as endemic to Australia. This study reports the detection of a new spotted fever group Rickettsia in the common marsupial tick Ixodes tasmani Neumann collected from koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia. Based on the results of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of extracted tick DNA with primers targeting the citrate synthase gene (gltA) and the outer membrane proteins A and B (ompA. ompB), Rickettsiae were detected in 22 of 78 I. tasmani tick samples (28.2%). Sequence data obtained for the three genes displayed the closest degree of similarity to Rickettsia heilongjiangiensiss for gltA (99.4%; 331/333 bp),Rickettsia amblyommii for the ompA gene (94.8%; 417/440 bp), and both Rickettsia massiliae and Rickettsia rhipicephali for the ompB gene (97%; 770/803 bp). BLAST and phylogenetic analysis of partial sequences obtained for the three genes were found to have sufficient nucleotide variation from the current recognized Australian species to be considered a distinct spotted fever group Rickettsia.