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Tissue localization of Coxiella-like endosymbionts in three European tick species through fluorescence in situ hybridization

Abstract : Ticks are commonly infected by Coxiella-like endosymbionts (Coxiella-LE) which are thought to supply missing B vitamin nutrients required for blood digestion.While this nutritional symbiosis is essential for the survival and reproduction of infected tick species, our knowledge of where Coxiella-LE is localized in tick tissues is partial at best since previous studies have focused on a limited number of Asian or American tick species. To fill this gap, we investigated the tissue localization of Coxiella-LE in three European tick species, Ornithodoros maritimus, Dermacentor marginatus and Ixodes hexagonus, using a diagnostic fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) assay, combined with PCR-based detection. Specific fluorescent foci were observed in several tick tissues. We visualized a pronounced tissue tropism of Coxiella-LE for tick ovaries and Malpighian tubules, a pattern suggestive of a high degree of lifestyle specialization toward mutualism: infection of the ovaries is indicative of transovarial transmission, whereas infection of the Malpighian tubules suggests a nutritional function. We postulate that Malpighian tubules are key organs for the nutritional symbiosis, notably the synthesis of B vitamins by Coxiella-LE, whereas the infection of the ovaries ensures vertical transmission of the symbionts to future generations. We also detected occasional infections in other organs, such as salivary glands and the midgut. Finally, we discuss the potential significance of the different tissue tropism for tick biology
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https://hal-cnrs.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02359153
Contributor : Olivier Duron <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 12:33:06 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - 7:53:40 PM

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Marie Buysse, Olivier Plantard, Karen Mccoy, Olivier Duron, Claudine Ménard. Tissue localization of Coxiella-like endosymbionts in three European tick species through fluorescence in situ hybridization. Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases, Elsevier, 2019, 10 (4), pp.798-804. ⟨10.1016/j.ttbdis.2019.03.014⟩. ⟨hal-02359153⟩

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