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Species-Level Profiling of Ixodes pacificus Bacterial Microbiomes Reveals High Variability Across Short Spatial Scales at Different Taxonomic Resolutions
Genetic Testing and Molecular Biomarkers  (IF1.795),  Pub Date : 2021-08-17, DOI: 10.1089/gtmb.2021.0088
Kayla M. Socarras, Joshua P. Earl, Jaroslaw E. Krol, Archana Bhat, Max Pabilonia, Meghan H. Harrison, Steven P. Lang, Bhaswati Sen, Azad Ahmed, Michael Hester, Joshua Chang Mell, Kurt Vandegrift, Garth D. Ehrlich

Background and Aims: Outbreaks of severe and chronic tick-borne diseases (TBDs) are on the rise. This is through the transmission of infectious disease agents to humans during tick feeding. The transmission rate and extent of microbial exchange, however, vary based on the tick microbiome composition. While select microbes are determined to be members of the normal tick microbiome and others are clearly recognized mammalian and/or avian pathogens, the status of many other members of the tick microbiota with respect to human and alternate host pathogenesis remains unclear. Moreover, the species-level 16S microbiome of prominent TBD vectors, including Ixodes pacificus, have not been extensively studied. To elucidate the I. pacificus microbiome composition, we performed a pan-domain species-specific characterization of the bacterial microbiome on adult I. pacificus ticks collected from two regional parks within Western California. Our methods provide for characterizing nuances within cohort microbiomes and their relationships to geo-locale of origin, surrounding fauna, and prevalences of known and suspected pathogens in relation to current TBD epidemiological zones.