Distribution and molecular characterization ofWolbachia endosymbionts and larial nematodes inMaryland populations of the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum)

Xing Zhang, Douglas Norris, Jason L. Rasgon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The lone star tick Amblyomma americanum is host to a wide diversity of endosymbiotic bacteria. We identified a novel Wolbachia symbiont infecting A. americanum. Multilocus sequence typing phylogenetically placed the endosymbiont in the increasingly diverse F supergroup. We assayed a total of 1031 ticks (119 females, 78 males and 834 nymphs in 89 pools) from 16 Maryland populations for infection. Infection frequencies in the natural populations were approximately 5% in females and o2% (minimum infection rate) in nymphs; infection was not detected in males. Infected populations were only observed in southern Maryland, suggesting the possibility that Wolbachia is currently invading Maryland A. americanum populations. Because F supergroup Wolbachia have been detected previously in filarial nematodes, tick samples were assayed for nematodes by PCR. Filarial nematodes were detected in 70% and 9% of Wolbachia-positive and Wolbachia-negative tick samples, respectively. While nematodes were more common in Wolbachia-positive tick samples, the lack of a strict infection concordance (Wolbachia-positive, nematode-negative and Wolbachia-negative, nematode-positive ticks) suggests that Wolbachia prevalence in ticks is not due to nematode infection. Supporting this hypothesis, phylogenetic analysis indicated that the nematodes were likely a novel species within the genus Acanthocheilonema, which has been previously shown to be Wolbachia-free.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-56
Number of pages7
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011



  • Acanthocheilonema
  • Amblyomma americanum
  • MLST
  • Nematode
  • Tick
  • Wolbachia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Microbiology

Cite this