To clarify phylogenetic relationships and genetic diversity among Bartonella washoensis strains obtained from squirrels, multi-locus sequence analysis (MLSA) with the 16S rRNA, ftsZ, gltA, groEL, ribC, and rpoB genes was applied for 20 strains of B. washoensis isolated from five genera of squirrels (Tamias, Tamiasciurus, Glaucomys, Sciurus, and Spermophilus) within the family Sciuridae. Sequence similarities in the concatenated sequences of B. washoensis strains from squirrels of different genera ranged from 94.7% (Sciurus vs. Spermophilus) to 98.4% (Tamiasciurus vs. Glaucomys). Phylogenetic trees based on the concatenated sequences revealed that B. washoensis strains formed five distinct clades and each clade correlated with the genus of squirrel from which the strains were originally obtained. The discrimination was supported by 100% bootstrap values and posterior probabilities, respectively. These results suggest that B. washoensis strains may have co-speciated with their squirrel hosts and provide new insights into the application of the MLSA to identify sources of B. washoensis infection with accuracy.
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