Amblyomma americanum (the lone star tick) is a broadly distributed tick that transmits multiple pathogens of humans and domestic animals. 'Candidatus Rickettsia amblyommii' is a spotted-fever group rickettsial species that is potentially associated with human disease. In 2008 and 2009, we assayed over 500 unfed adult ticks from 19 Maryland populations for the presence of 'Candidatus R. amblyommii'. Infection frequencies ranged from 33% to 100%, with an average infection rate of 60% in 2008 and 69% in 2009. Infection frequencies did not differ statistically between sexes. To develop a system in which to study 'Candidatus R. amblyommii' in the laboratory, we used a cell line developed from Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes (Sua5B) to isolate and culture 'Candidatus R. amblyommii' from field-collected A. americanum ticks from 2 localities in Maryland. After infection, Sua5B cells were infected for more than 40 passages. Infection was confirmed by Rickettsia-specific PCR, gene sequencing, and Rickettsia-specific fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). These data show that 'Candidatus R. amblyommii' is widespread in Maryland A. americanum populations and that Sua5B cells are a useful tool for culturing Rickettsia infections from wild ticks.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science
- Infectious Diseases