Several new taxa belonging to the genus Francisella have been described recently. The present study describes the prevalence of Francisella tularensis and Francisella-like endosymbionts (FLE) in ticks collected from Hungary from 2007 to 2009 and characterizes the genetic variability of FLEs. A total of 5402 Ixodid ticks (Ixodes ricinus, I. acuminatus, Dermacentor marginatus, D. reticulatus, Haemaphysalis inermis, H. concinna, H. punctata) were collected from vegetation and animal hosts and tested with conventional PCR, detecting the 16S rRNA and tul4 genes. F. tularensis ssp. holarctica was found in 2 pools of H. concinna and 1 pool of D. reticulatus, both representing minimum prevalence (calculated with 1 infected tick per pool) of 0.27% whereas the sequences of a FLE were detected in 11 pools of D. reticulatus showing a minimum prevalence of 3%. Although the tul4 gene sequence of this FLE was identical to all Hungarian and Portuguese FLEs found earlier, and the 16S rRNA sequence was also identical to the sequence of the endosymbiont of D. reticulatus described in Bulgaria, these 16S rRNA gene coding sequences differed in 2 nucleotides from the one found earlier in this tick species in Hungary. This divergence may appear to be a minor difference between the sequences, potentially even resulting from a technical failure, but it could also indicate a significant difference stemming from the conservative genetic character of Francisellaceae. Thus, it raises a question about the number of FLE variants circulating in D. reticulatus in Europe and indicates the need for further data about the FLEs described in other parts of the continent and new FLE genotyping markers.
- Francisella tularensis
- Francisella-like endosymbiont
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases