The microbiome of Haemaphysalis lemuris (Acari: Ixodidae), a possible vector of pathogens of endangered lemur species in Madagascar.
Lemurs are primate species that are endemic to Madagascar. At present, about 90% of lemur species are endangered, and 5 species are among the 25 most endangered primates worldwide. Health status is a major factor impacting the viability of wild populations of many endangered species including lemurs. Given this context, we analyzed the microbiome of 24 specimens of Haemaphysalis lemuris, the most common tick parasitizing lemurs in their native habitats. Ticks were collected from 6 lemur species and microbiomes analyzed using next-generation sequencing. Our results show that the H. lemuris microbiome is highly diverse, including over 500 taxa, 267 of which were identified to genus level. Analysis of the microbiome also shows that there is a distinct "host" (lemur species) component when explaining the differences among and between microbial communities of H. lemuris. This "host" component seems to overwhelm any "locality" (geographic origin of the sample) component. In addition to the microbiome data, targeted PCR was used to test for the presence of three pathogens recently detected in the blood of wild lemurs: Borrelia sp., Candidatus Neoehrlichia sp., and Babesia sp. Overall, the presence of DNA of Rickettsia spp., Bartonella spp., Francisella spp., and a Babesia sp., in H. lemuris, is consistent with the hypothesis that these ectoparasites may act as vector for these pathogens. Further studies assessing vector competence are needed to confirm this hypothesis.
Lado, P; Qurollo, B; Williams, C; Junge, R; Klompen, H
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