Bartonella species are arthropod-borne bacterial pathogens that infect numerous mammalian species. Small mammals play an important role as natural reservoirs of many Bartonella species, maintaining the greatest diversity of Bartonella described to date. Although Bartonella research has been conducted in Southeast Asia, no studies have been undertaken on small mammals in Singapore. Here, we report the detection and description of Bartonella in small mammals in Singapore during the period of November 2011 to May 2014. BartonellaDNA was detected in 20.8% (22/106) of small mammal spleens with a PCR amplifying the beta subunit of bacterial RNA polymerase (rpoB) gene. Commensal species Rattus norvegicus and Rattus tanezumi had the highest prevalence, 75% (3/4) and 34,5% (10/29), followed by Suncus murinus 30% (6/20), Tupaia glis 16,7% (1/6) and Mus castaneus 13.3% (2/15). Phylogenetic analysis of 18 rpoB gene sequences revealed five Bartonella genotypes circulating in the small mammals of Singapore. Bayesian tip-significance testing demonstrated strong structuring in the geographical signal, indicating that distribution of Bartonella species is correlated to the distribution of their hosts. Major deforestation and fragmentation in Singapore favour synanthropic species that traverse habitats and increase the possibility of spillover to incidental hosts.
Keywords: arthropod-borne; disease ecology; rodent; shrew; tree shrew; zoonosis.
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