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. 2013 Jan;7(1):221-3.
doi: 10.1038/ismej.2012.71. Epub 2012 Jun 28.

The Arthropod, but Not the Vertebrate Host or Its Environment, Dictates Bacterial Community Composition of Fleas and Ticks

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Free PMC article

The Arthropod, but Not the Vertebrate Host or Its Environment, Dictates Bacterial Community Composition of Fleas and Ticks

Hadas Hawlena et al. ISME J. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Bacterial community composition in blood-sucking arthropods can shift dramatically across time and space. We used 16S rRNA gene amplification and pyrosequencing to investigate the relative impact of vertebrate host-related, arthropod-related and environmental factors on bacterial community composition in fleas and ticks collected from rodents in southern Indiana (USA). Bacterial community composition was largely affected by arthropod identity, but not by the rodent host or environmental conditions. Specifically, the arthropod group (fleas vs ticks) determined the community composition of bacteria, where bacterial communities of ticks were less diverse and more dependent on arthropod traits--especially tick species and life stage--than bacterial communities of fleas. Our data suggest that both arthropod life histories and the presence of arthropod-specific endosymbionts may mask the effects of the vertebrate host and its environment.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination of (a) all 198 arthropods based on Bray–Curtis similarities in abundances of the 103 bacterial phylotypes and (b) a subset of 146 arthropods based on Bray–Curtis similarities in abundances of five bacterial phylotypes belonging to the commonest arthropod-specific genera (Rickettsia 1, Francisella 1, Francisella 2, Bartonella 1 and Bartonella 2; Supplementary Table S2 and Supplementary Figure S2). Closer points represent higher similarity in bacterial community composition than points that are further apart. Each point represents an individual arthropod. The division of arthropod to species (green squares for D. variabilis, black circles for I. scapularis, blue triangles for C. pseudagyrtes, and red X's for O. leucopus) was the best explanatory variable of the bacterial community composition within ticks but not fleas. Oval shapes surround bacterial communities in individual arthropods of the same species or two species that were not distinguished based on their bacterial communities.

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