Ixodes ventalloi: morphological and molecular support for species integrity
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Despite their medical and veterinary importance, some tick species are so poorly studied, that their role within pathogen vector transmission cycles is difficult to assess. The tick Ixodes ventalloi is one such species, and its biology and phylogenetic status remain an issue of debate. In the present study, specimens of adult I. ventalloi (n = 65 females; n = 31 males) infesting cats in the Lipari Island (Aeolian archipelago, Sicily, southern Italy) were characterized morphologically and molecularly, the latter based on mitochondrial 16S rRNA and cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) genes. The genetic data and phylogenetic analyses for both mitochondrial genes suggest the existence of two distinct genogroups. The ecological and epidemiological significance of the genetic structure within the I. ventalloi endemic population remains to be determined. The results highlight the need for further analysis of this tick species, including whole mitochondrial genome sequencing and crossbreeding studies, which will be pivotal to complement features of its status as a vector of pathogens.
KeywordsIxodes ventalloi Cats Morphology 16S rRNA cox1 Phylogeny
The authors would like to thank Dr. Viviana Domenica Tarallo (University of Bari) for the I. ventalloi drawing in Fig. 2.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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