A hard tick relapsing fever group spirochete in a Brazilian Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus

Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. Winter 2007;7(4):717-21. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2007.0144.


Tick-borne diseases usually comprise a complex epidemiological and ecological network connecting the vector, pathogen, and a group of host species. Symptoms associated with Lyme disease have been reported in Brazil, but no Borrelia sp. has been definitively related to these events. Here we have identified a B. lonestari/B. theileri-related spirochete DNA in the cattle tick Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus from Brazil. Four hundred R. microplus and 80 Amblyomma cajennense ticks were screened, and only 1 horse-fed R. microplus was infected. A Borrelia sp. 16S rDNA sequence was amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) from the total tick DNA with 99% similarity to B. theileri and B. lonestari. Partial flaB sequence was also obtained, demonstrating 96% similarity to the B. lonestari flagellin gene, and the resultant putative amino acid sequence demonstrated 97% identity to B. lonestari flagellin. Moreover, partial glpQ sequence demonstrated 92% similarity to the B. lonestari gene, with a putative amino acid sequence 90% identical to the B. lonestari glycerophosphodiester phosphodiesterase. Phylogenetic analyses clearly include this Brazilian Borrelia sp., denoted "Borrelia," sp-BR in a group of spirochetes aligned with B. theileri and B. lonestari. Thus, hard tick relapsing fever group spirochetes represent a clade of widespread bacteria and herein we describe the first molecular identification of a Borrelia sp. in South America.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachnid Vectors / microbiology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Borrelia / classification
  • Borrelia / genetics
  • Borrelia / isolation & purification*
  • Brazil
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Flagellin / genetics
  • Horses
  • Ixodidae / microbiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Relapsing Fever / microbiology*
  • Relapsing Fever / transmission
  • Rhipicephalus / microbiology*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Tick Infestations / microbiology


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Flagellin
  • flaB flagellin
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases
  • glpQ protein, Bacteria

Associated data

  • GENBANK/EF141021
  • GENBANK/EF141022
  • GENBANK/EF141023