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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2015 Dec;81(23):8177-82. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02183-15. Epub 2015 Sep 18.

The high prevalence and diversity of Chlamydiales DNA within Ixodes ricinus ticks suggest a role for ticks as reservoirs and vectors of Chlamydia-related bacteria.

Pilloux L1, Aeby S1, Gaümann R2, Burri C1, Beuret C2, Greub G3.


The Chlamydiales order is composed of nine families of strictly intracellular bacteria. Among them, Chlamydia trachomatis, C. pneumoniae, and C. psittaci are established human pathogens, whereas Waddlia chondrophila and Parachlamydia acanthamoebae have emerged as new pathogens in humans. However, despite their medical importance, their biodiversity and ecology remain to be studied. Even if arthropods and, particularly, ticks are well known to be vectors of numerous infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria, virtually nothing is known about ticks and chlamydia. This study investigated the prevalence of Chlamydiae in ticks. Specifically, 62,889 Ixodes ricinus ticks, consolidated into 8,534 pools, were sampled in 172 collection sites throughout Switzerland and were investigated using pan-Chlamydialesquantitative PCR (qPCR) for the presence of Chlamydiales DNA. Among the pools, 543 (6.4%) gave positive results and the estimated prevalence in individual ticks was 0.89%. Among those pools with positive results, we obtained 16S rRNA sequences for 359 samples, allowing classification of Chlamydiales DNA at the family level. A high level of biodiversity was observed, since six of the nine families belonging to the Chlamydiales order were detected. Those most common were Parachlamydiaceae (33.1%) and Rhabdochlamydiaceae (29.2%). “Unclassified Chlamydiales” (31.8%) were also often detected. Thanks to the huge amount of Chlamydiales DNA recovered from ticks, this report opens up new perspectives on further work focusing on whole-genome sequencing to increase our knowledge about Chlamydiales biodiversity. This report of an epidemiological study also demonstrates the presence of Chlamydia-related bacteria within Ixodes ricinus ticks and suggests a role for ticks in the transmission of and as a reservoir for these emerging pathogenic Chlamydia-related bacteria.

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Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2014 Jun;5(4):359-65. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2013.11.009. Epub 2014 Mar 31.

Presence of Chlamydiales DNA in ticks and fleas suggests that ticks are carriers of Chlamydiae.

Croxatto A1, Rieille N2, Kernif T3, Bitam I3, Aeby S1, Péter O2, Greub G4.


The Chlamydiales order includes the Chlamydiaceae, Parachlamydiaceae, Waddliaceae, Simkaniaceae, Criblamydiaceae, Rhabdochlamydiaceae, Clavichlamydiaceae, and Piscichlamydiaceae families. Members of the Chlamydiales order are obligate intracellular bacteria that replicate within eukaryotic cells of different origins including humans, animals, and amoebae. Many of these bacteria are pathogens or emerging pathogens of both humans and animals, but their true diversity is largely underestimated, and their ecology remains to be investigated. Considering their potential threat on human health, it is important to expand our knowledge on the diversity of Chlamydiae, but also to define the host range colonized by these bacteria. Thus, using a new pan-Chlamydiales PCR, we analyzed the prevalence of Chlamydiales DNA in ticks and fleas, which are important vectors of several viral and bacterial infectious diseases. To conduct this study, 1340 Ixodes ricinus ticks prepared in 192 pools were collected in Switzerland and 55 other ticks belonging to different tick species and 97 fleas belonging to different flea species were harvested in Algeria. In Switzerland, the prevalence of Chlamydiales DNA in the 192 pools was equal to 28.1% (54/192) which represents an estimated prevalence in the 1340 individual ticks of between 4.0% and 28.4%. The pan-Chlamydiales qPCR was positive for 45% (25/55) of tick samples collected in Algeria. The sequencing of the positive qPCR amplicons revealed a high diversity of Chlamydiales species. Most of them belonged to the Rhabdochlamydiaceae and Parachlamydiaceae families. Thus, ticks may carry Chlamydiales and should thus be considered as possible vectors for Chlamydiales propagation to both humans and animals.

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Mappe del Centro nazionale svizzero di riferimento per le malattie trasmesse da zecche (NRZK)

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