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Rediscovering an old friend: the case of Ixodes dampfi in a protected natural reserve in central Mexico


The tick Ixodes dampfi Cooley 1943, a member of the Pholeoixodes subgenus, was first described from gophers (Geomys sp.) collected in the state of Mexico. However, information on the origin and parasite-host association of I. dampfi is lacking. Here, new records of the occurrence of this tick species were provided nearly 80 years since its original description, in addition to new localities, genetic data, and host-parasite records. A total of four hosts (one Bassariscus astutus, two Didelphis virginiana, and one Peromyscus gratus) from three orders (Carnivora, Didelphimorphia, and Rodentia) were parasitised by seven I. dampfi females. Sequences of the 16S rDNA gene from the ticks exhibited a similarity ranging from 97 (389/403 bp) to 100% (403/403 bp), with the unique sequence of I. dampfi available on GenBank (AF549837). Additionally, Rickettsia-specific 16S rDNA, htrA, and ompA gene assays generated sequences in four of the seven I. dampfi specimens (57.14%). Partial sequences revealed 99–100% genetic identities with Candidatus Rickettsia angustus (GenBank accession HF935069, HF935072, HF935078) and Candidatus Rickettsia kingi (GenBank accession HF935068, HF935071, HF935077) from Canada. Our results represent the first record of this elusive ectoparasite in a natural protected area, which is a triumph for conservation, as accelerated defaunation processes pose the risk of coextinction for many groups of vertebrates and their ectoparasites.

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We thank to Juan Carlos del Mazo López and Magally Landa Flores from the Pathogen Genome lab (Molecular Biology Department, InDRE) for processing samples for sequencing.


The sponsorship for this work was supported by grant PAPIIT AG201221.

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Correspondence to Sokani Sánchez-Montes or Fernando Gual-Sill.

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Sánchez-Montes, S., Santoyo-Colín, V., Zapata-Marín, A. et al. Rediscovering an old friend: the case of Ixodes dampfi in a protected natural reserve in central Mexico. Parasitol Res 120, 3899–3904 (2021).

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  • Ixodes
  • Endemic
  • Hard tick
  • Ectoparasite
  • Rickettsia