Automatic barcode gap discovery reveals diverse clades of Rhipicephalus spp. and Haemaphysalis spp. ticks from small mammals in `Asir, Saudi Arabia

Alghamdi, Samia Q. and Low, Van Lun and Alkathiry, Hadil A. and Alagaili, Abdulaziz N. and McGarry, John W. and Makepeace, Benjamin L. (2021) Automatic barcode gap discovery reveals diverse clades of Rhipicephalus spp. and Haemaphysalis spp. ticks from small mammals in `Asir, Saudi Arabia. Parasites & Vectors, 14 (1). ISSN 1756-3305, DOI

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Background: The ixodid tick genera Rhipicephalus and Haemaphysalis contain several species of medical and/or veterinary importance, but their diversity in some regions of the world remains under-explored. For instance, very few modern studies have been performed on the taxonomy of these genera on the Arabian Peninsula. Methods: In this study, we trapped small mammals in the `Asir Mountains of south-western Saudi Arabia and collected tick specimens for morphological examination and molecular barcoding, targeting three mitochondrial loci: cox1, 16S rRNA and 12S rRNA. Results: We obtained a total of 733 ticks (608 Haemaphysalis spp. and 125 Rhipicephalus spp.) from 75 small mammal hosts belonging to six species. All tick specimens were immature except for nine adults recovered from a hedgehog (Paraechinus aethiopicus). Morphologically, the Rhipicephalus ticks resembled R. camicasi, but the Haemaphysalis ticks showed differences in palp morphology compared with species previously described from Saudi Arabia. Phylogenetic analysis and automatic barcode gap discovery identified a novel clade of Rhipicephalus sp. representing most of the nymphs. This was most closely related to R. leporis, R. guilhoni and R. linnaei. The adult ticks and a small proportion of nymphs clustered with R. camicasi sequences from a previous study. Finally, the Haemaphysalis nymphs formed two distinct clades that were clearly separated from all reference sequences but closest to some African species. Conclusions: This apparent high level of tick diversity observed in a single study site of only similar to 170 km(2), on a relatively small number of hosts, highlights the potential for the discovery of new tick species on the Arabian Peninsula.

Item Type: Article
Funders: Al Baha University, Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, King Saud University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Uncontrolled Keywords: Molecular barcoding; Ixodidae; Meriones rex; Acomys dimidiatus; Jird; Brown dog tick
Subjects: Q Science > QR Microbiology
R Medicine > RV Botanic, Thomsonian, and eclectic medicine
Depositing User: Ms Zaharah Ramly
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2022 07:31
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2022 07:31

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