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Molecular characterization and phylogenetic analysis of Babesia and Theileria spp. in ticks from domestic and wild hosts in Sardinia

Chisu, Valentina, Alberti, Alberto, Zobba, Rosanna, Foxi, Cipriano, Masala, Giovanna
Acta tropica 2019 v.196 pp. 60-65
Babesia bigemina, Dermacentor marginatus, Haemaphysalis punctata, Hyalomma marginatum, Rhipicephalus annulatus, Rhipicephalus bursa, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Theileria buffeli, Theileria equi, dogs, equine piroplasmosis, hosts, mouflon, pathogens, phylogeny, polymerase chain reaction, protozoal infections, sequence analysis, sheep, theileriosis, ticks, Sardinia
Piroplasmoses are tick-borne protozoan diseases caused by hemoprotozoan parasites with considerable economic, veterinary and medical impact worldwide. Here, the presence and diversity of piroplasmids was investigated in ticks collected from domestic and wild hosts in a typical subtropical environment of Sardinia island by standard PCR, sequencing, and phylogenetic analyses. We demonstrate the presence of strains closely related to the Theileria buffeli/sergentii/orientalis complex in Rhipicephalus sanguineus s.l., Rh. bursa, Rh. annulatus, Hyalomma marginatum, Dermacentor marginatus and Haemaphysalis punctata ticks. A strain detected in two Rh. sanguineus s.l. ticks collected from dogs grouped with T. equi, the agent of equine piroplasmosis. T. ovis, the main etiological agent of ovine theileriosis, was detected in one Rh. bursa tick from a mouflon. Babesia bigemina, the causative agent of bovine babesiosis, was detected in two Rh. sanguineus s.l. ticks from dogs. Our findings expand the knowledge on the repertoire of tick-borne pathogens present in Mediterranean ticks. Further analyses are needed to determine the role of ticks in the biological or mechanical transmission of piroplasmoses in this area.