New genetic lineages, host associations and circulation pathways of Neorickettsia endosymbionts of digeneans
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Neorickettsia is a genus of intracellular bacteria endosymbiotic in digeneans that may also invade cells of vertebrates and are known to cause diseases of wildlife and humans. Herein, we report results of screening for Neorickettsia of an extensive collection of DNA extracts from adult and larval digeneans obtained from various vertebrates and mollusks in the United States. Seven isolates of Neorickettsia were detected by PCR and sequenced targeting a 527 bp long region of 16S rRNA. Sequence comparison and phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that four isolates matched published sequences of Neorickettsia risticii. Three other isolates, provisionally named “catfish agents 1 and 2” (obtained from Megalogonia ictaluri and Phyllodistomum lacustri, both parasitic in catfishes) and Neorickettsia sp. (obtained from cercariae of Diplostomum sp.), differed from previously known genotypes of Neorickettsia and are likely candidates for new species. All 7 isolates of Neorickettsia were obtained from digenean species and genera that were not previously reported as hosts of these bacteria. Members of four digenean families (Dicrocoeliidae, Heronimidae, Macroderoididae and Gorgoderidae) are reported as hosts of Neorickettsia for the first time. Our study reveals several new pathways of Neorickettsia circulation in nature. We have found for the first time a Neorickettsia from a digenean (dicrocoeliid Conspicuum icteridorum) with an entirely terrestrial life cycle. We found N. risticii in digeneans (Alloglossidium corti and Heronimus mollis) with entirely aquatic life cycles. Previously, this Neorickettsia species was known only from digeneans with aquatic/terrestrial life cycles. Our results suggest that our current knowledge of the diversity, host associations and circulation of neorickettsiae is far from satisfactory.
KeywordsNeorickettsia Anaplasmataceae 16S rRNA new genotypes phylogeny Digenea circulation host associations
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