Nonpathogenic bacteria likely play important roles in the biology and vector competence of ticks and other arthropods. Coxiella, a gram-negative gammaproteobacterium, is one of the most commonly reported maternally inherited endosymbionts in ticks and has been associated with over 40 tick species. Species-specific Coxiella-like endosymbionts (CLEs) have been reported in the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus sensu lato (Acari: Ixodidae), throughout the world, while recent research suggests low Coxiella diversity among tick species. We investigated CLE diversity among R. sanguineus s.l. ticks across Arizona. We detected 37 recurrent sequence variants (SVs) of the symbiont, indicating greater diversity in these symbiotic bacteria than previously reported. However, two SVs accounted for the vast majority of 16S rRNA amplicon reads. These two dominant CLEs were both closely related to Candidatus C. mudrowiae, an identified symbiont of Rhipicephalus turanicus ticks. One strain strongly associated with the tropical lineage of R. sanguineus s.l. while the other was found almost exclusively in the temperate lineage, supporting the conclusion that CLEs are primarily vertically transmitted. However, occasional mismatches between tick lineage and symbiont SV indicate that horizontal symbiont transfer may occur, perhaps via cofeeding of ticks from different lineages on the same dog. This study advances our understanding of CLE diversity in Rh. sanguineus s.l.
- brown dog tick
ASJC Scopus subject areas