Proposing a new hypothesis: Rickettsia spp. as a mechanism maintaining parapatry between two Australian reptile tick species

Morgan Staines, Tessa Bradford, Stephen R. Graves, Simon Bull, Michael G. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigates two parasitic reptile ticks — Bothriocroton hydrosauri and Amblyomma limbatum — of the sleepy lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) that abut at a 1–2 km wide parapatric boundary in South Australia. Long-term research has investigated potential mechanisms to explain the maintenance of this boundary but has not uncovered why the distribution of A. limbatum does not extend further south. It has been previously hypothesised that pathogens may be responsible for maintaining parapatric boundaries. Rickettsia spp. has previously been reported in B. hydrosauri ticks. This study explored whether Rickettsia spp. occurs in co-occurring A. limbatum. We observed that Rickettsia spp. was absent from all A. limbatum ticks and that 83% of examined B. hydrosauri were found to be positive with a spotted fever group Rickettsia strain. This study puts forward the hypothesis that Rickettsia spp. could contribute to the maintenance of the Mt Mary parapatric boundary between these two tick species. Further work is required to determine whether Rickettsia spp. can be transmitted from B. hydrosauri to A. limbatum and — if transmission can occur — to explore whether Rickettsia is lethal to A. limbatum ticks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-492
Number of pages5
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • Amblyomma limbatum
  • Bothriocroton hydrosauri
  • Ixodid tick
  • spotted fever
  • Tiliqua rugosa
  • transmission

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