From January to December 2009, 55 Amblyomma dissimile (Koch) ticks removed from iguanas in the municipality of Monteria and 3,114 ticks [458 Amblyomma sp. larvae, 2,636 Rhipicephalus microplus (Canestrini) larvae and 20 Amblyomma sp. nymphs] collected over vegetation in Los Cordobas were included in the study. The ticks were pooled into groups from which DNA was extracted. For initial screening of Rickettsia sp., each pool was analyzed by gltA real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Positive pools were further studied using gltA, ompA, and ompB conventional PCR assays. Sequencing and phylogenetic analysis were also conducted. Rickettsial DNA was found in 28 pools of ticks (16 A. dissimile pools and 12 free-living larvae pools) out of 113 (24.7%) using real-time PCR. The same 28 pools were also positive using conventional PCR assays aimed to amplify gltA, ompA, and ompB. For each gene analyzed, PCR products obtained from 4/28 pools (two pools of A. dissimile, one pool of Amblyomma sp. larvae and one pool of Rh. microplus larvae) were randomly chosen and sequenced twice. Nucleotide sequences generated were identical to each other for each of the rickettsial genes gltA, ompA, and ompB, and showed 99.4, 95.6, and 96.4% identity with those of Rickettsia tamurae. They were deposited in the GenBank database under accession numbers JF905456, JF905458, and JF905457, respectively. In conclusion, we present the first molecular evidence of a novel Rickettsia (Rickettsia sp. strain Colombianensi) infecting A. dissimile ticks collected from iguanas, and also Rh. microplus and unspeciated Amblyomma larvae from vegetation in Colombia.
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Vol. 49 • No. 4