Paired real-time PCR assays for detection of Borrelia miyamotoi in North American Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus (Acari: Ixodidae)
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Paired real-time PCR assays for detection of Borrelia miyamotoi in North American Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus (Acari: Ixodidae)

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  • Alternative Title:
    Ticks Tick Borne Dis
  • Description:
    Borrelia miyamotoi is an emerging, tick-borne human pathogen. In North America, it is primarily associated with Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus, two species known to bite humans. Here we describe the development and evaluation of a pair of real-time TaqMan PCR assays designed to detect B. miyamotoi in North American ticks. We sought to achieve sensitivity to B. miyamotoi strains associated with ticks throughout North America, the full genetic diversity of which is unknown, by targeting sequences that are largely conserved between B. miyamotoi strains from the eastern United States and genetically distinct B. miyamotoi strains from Japan. The two assays target different loci on the B. miyamotoi chromosome and can be run side by side under identical cycling conditions. One of the assays also includes a tick DNA target that can be used to verify the integrity of tick-derived samples. Using both recombinant plasmid controls and genomic DNA from North American and Japanese strains, we determined that both assays reliably detect as few as 5 copies of the B. miyamotoi genome. We verified that neither detects B. burgdorferi, B. lonestari or B. turicatae. This sensitive and specific pair of assays successfully detected B. miyamotoi in naturally-infected, colony-reared nymphs and in field-collected I. scapularis and I. pacificus from the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest respectively. These assays will be useful in screening field-collected Ixodes spp. from varied regions of North America to assess the risk of human exposure to this emerging pathogen.
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