Molecular investigation of tick-borne pathogens in ixodid ticks infesting domestic animals (cattle and sheep) and small rodents (black rats) of Corsica, France

Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2019 Apr;10(3):606-613. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2019.02.007. Epub 2019 Feb 13.


Although livestock farming (sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle) is an important economic activity in Corsica, a French Mediterranean island, knowledge about the tick fauna and microorganisms carried by them remains scarce. This study aimed to investigate the presence and perform molecular characterization of Anaplasmataceae, Rickettsia spp., and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (sl) in tick species collected in Corsica. Ticks from cattle (Bos taurus), sheep (Ovis aries), and rodents (Rattus rattus) were collected from May to September 2016. DNA was purified from ticks, submitted to quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and sequenced for phylogenetic analysis. In total, 660 ticks were collected from 111 animals during the study. The most abundant collected tick species from cattle was Rhipicephalus bursa (n = 495; 84.5%), followed by Hyalomma marginatum (n = 91; 15.5%). Rhipicephalus bursa and Ixodes ricinus were the only tick species collected from sheep and rodents, respectively. Overall, Rickettsia was the most common pathogen group (n = 48; 24%) detected in ticks. Sequence analysis of partial gltA and ompA genes revealed the presence of Ri. aeschlimannii and Candidatus Ri. barbariae. Anaplasmataceae DNA was detected in eight (6%) of the 127 cattle pools and in one (2%) of the 61 R. bursa specimens collected from sheep. Sequence analysis of the rpoB gene revealed the presence of one Anaplasma species, A. marginale. Borrelia burgdorferi sl DNA was detected in one pool of H. marginatum collected from cattle and in two (15%) of the 13 I. ricinus pools collected from nine black rats. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the occurrence and molecular characterization of Candidatus Ri. barbariae, an emerging member of the Rickettsia group causing spotted fever, in Corsica. The detection of B. burgdorferi sl DNA, which was previously believed to be rare in Corsica, confirms the presence of this agent on the island.

Keywords: Anaplasmataceae; Animals; Borrelia burgdorferi sl; Candidatus Ri. barbariae; Corsica; Rickettsia spp.; Ticks.

MeSH terms

  • Anaplasmataceae / genetics
  • Anaplasmataceae / isolation & purification
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / parasitology*
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / genetics
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / isolation & purification
  • Cattle / parasitology
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cattle Diseases / microbiology
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Islands
  • Male
  • Phylogeny
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rickettsia / genetics
  • Rickettsia / isolation & purification
  • Rodentia / microbiology
  • Rodentia / parasitology
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sheep / parasitology
  • Sheep Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sheep Diseases / microbiology
  • Tick Infestations / epidemiology
  • Tick Infestations / microbiology
  • Tick Infestations / veterinary
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / epidemiology
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / microbiology
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / veterinary*
  • Ticks / microbiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial