"Candidatus Midichloria" endosymbionts bloom after the blood meal of the host, the hard tick Ixodes ricinus.

Dipartimento di Patologia Animale, Igiene e Sanità Pubblica Veterinaria, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology (Impact Factor: 3.95). 09/2008; 74(19):6138-40. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00248-08
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT "Candidatus Midichloria mitochondrii," an intracellular symbiont of the tick Ixodes ricinus, is the only described organism able to invade the mitochondria of any multicellular organism. We used quantitative PCR to examine cycles of bacterial growth and death throughout the host's development and found that they correspond with the phases of engorgement and molt, respectively.

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    ABSTRACT: Recent reports suggest a potential for transmission of a newly discovered rickettsial endosymbiont, Midichloria mitochondrii, to animals and humans from feeding ticks (Ixodes ricinus). Using molecular methods; I. ricinus, sheep and red deer in Anaplasma phagocytophilum-endemic areas of Norway, were examined to see if they were infected by M. mitochondrii or related organisms like Wolbachia pipientis and Rickettsia spp. A total of 532 ticks collected from pastures, 76 blood samples from grazing lambs and 12 organ samples from hunted deer, were analyzed during the study. All larval pools, 60.4% pooled nymphs and 35.1% of adult ticks were positive for M. mitochondrii. There was a significant difference between geographical areas in the prevalence of M. mitochondrii infection among nymphs. A total of 2.2% pooled nymphs and 5.3% adult ticks were positive for A. phagocytophilum. Eleven percent of pooled nymphs were positive for Borrelia spp, 2.2% of pooled nymphs and 3.5% of adult ticks were positive for Rickettsia spp. and none of the ticks were positive for W. pipientis. The prevalence of A. phagocytophilum infection was 54% and 75% in grazing lambs and deer, respectively. No animals were positive for Borrelia spp., M. mitochondrii, Rickettsia spp. or W. pipientis. The reported findings suggest that M. mitochondrii is widespread in tick populations at different geographical sites, and may appear in co-infection with A. phagocytophilum, Borrelia spp. and Rickettsia spp. in ticks.
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    ABSTRACT: "Candidatus Midichloria mitochondrii" is an intramitochondrial bacterium of the order Rickettsiales, associated with the sheep tick Ixodes ricinus. Bacteria phylogenetically related with "Ca. M. mitochondrii" (Midichloria and like organisms, MALOs) have been shown to be associated with a wide range of hosts, from amoebae to a variety of animals, including humans. Despite numerous studies focused on specific members of the MALO group, no comprehensive phylogenetic and statistical analyses have so far been performed on the group as a whole. Here we present a multidisciplinary investigation based on 16S rRNA gene sequences, using both phylogenetic and statistical methods, thereby analysing MALOs in the overall framework of the Rickettsiales. This study revealed that: 1) MALOs form a monophyletic group, 2) the MALO group is structured into distinct subgroups, verifying current genera as significant evolutionary units and identifying several subclades that could represent novel genera, 3) the MALO group ranks at the level of described Rickettsiales families, leading to proposal of the novel family "Candidatus Midichloriaceae". In addition, based on the phylogenetic trees generated, we present an evolutionary scenario to interpret the distribution and life history transitions of these microorganisms associated with highly divergent eukaryotic hosts: we suggest that aquatic/environmental protista have acted as evolutionary reservoirs of members of this novel family, from which one or more lineages with the capacity of infecting metazoa have evolved.
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, we explored the growth dynamics of Rickettsia sp. phylotype G021 during transovarial transmission and transstadial passage by Ixodes pacificus using real-time quantitative PCR. Four parental engorged I. pacificus females were allowed to complete their developmental stages until the F2-generation eggs yielded unfed larvae. All eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults tested through 2 generations were found to be infected with phylotype G021. Hence, we conclude that the efficiency of transovarial transmission and transstadial passage of this phylotype in I. pacificus was 100%. Acquisition of a blood meal by all 3 parasitic stages (larva, nymph, adult) significantly increased the rickettsial burden as fed larvae, nymphs, and adults had respective 19-, 12-, and 313-fold increases of rickettsiae compared with unfed ticks representing each developmental stage. I. pacificus eggs contained high rickettsial burdens at the time of oviposition. While I. pacificus egg cells underwent rapid proliferation during early embryonic development, the rickettsiae remained relatively quiescent, which resulted in depressed numbers of phylotype G021 per tick cell. However, the rickettsial burden remained constant over a period of 56 days, as the rate of I. pacificus cell division slowed during later embryonic development.
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