Conservation of transmission phenotype of Anaplasma marginale (Rickettsiales: Anaplasmataceae) strains among Dermacentor and Rhipicephalus ticks (Acari: Ixodidae)

J Med Entomol. 2007 May;44(3):484-91. doi: 10.1603/0022-2585(2007)44[484:cotpoa];2.


Before the eradication of Boophilus ticks from the United States, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus (Canestrini) and Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) annulatus (Say) were important biological vectors of the cattle pathogen Anaplasma marginale Theiler. In the absence of Boophilus ticks, A. marginale continues to be transmitted by Dermacentor ticks. However, a few U.S. strains are not transmissible by Dermacentor andersoni Stiles, Dermacentor variabilis (Say), or both, raising the question of how these strains evolved and how they are maintained. We hypothesize that the U.S. non-Dermacentor-transmissible strains of A. marginale were formerly Boophilus-transmitted strains that have been maintained by a combination of persistent infection and mechanical transmission since the eradication of their biological vector from the United States. To test this hypothesis, we attempted to transmit a well-documented non-Dermacentor-transmissible A. marginale strain (Florida), by using D. andersoni and the two Boophilus species that formerly occurred in the United States. For comparison, we examined tick-borne transmission of a strain of A. marginale (Puerto Rico), which has previously been shown to be transmissible by both D. andersoni and B. microplus. All three species of tick transmitted the Puerto Rico strain, and immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis confirmed the presence ofA. marginale colonies in their salivary glands. All three tick species failed to transmit the Florida strain. Although both D. andersoni and B. microplus acquired transient midgut and salivary gland infections after acquisition feeding, we were unable to detect colonies of the Florida strain in the salivary glands with IHC. This demonstrates that the transmission phenotype ofA. marginale strains is conserved among tick species, and it suggests that the failure of the Florida strain to be transmitted by ticks is related to a general inability to efficiently invade or replicate in tick cells, rather than to a failure to invade or replicate in cells of a specific tick species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anaplasma marginale / genetics
  • Anaplasma marginale / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Dermacentor / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Phenotype*
  • Rhipicephalus / microbiology*