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ISME J. 2014 Aug;8(8):1598-608. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2014.22. Epub 2014 Feb 27.

The effect of ecological and temporal factors on the composition of Bartonella infection in rodents and their fleas.

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Koret School of Veterinary Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel.
Department of Life Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel.


The composition of Bartonella infection was explored in wild Gerbillus andersoni rodents and their Synosternus cleopatrae fleas. Rodent blood samples and fleas were collected in two periods (two different seasons; 4 months apart) from juveniles and adult hosts, and their bartonellae lineages were identified by a 454-pyrosequencing analysis targeting a specific Bartonella citrate synthase gene (gltA) fragment. The rate of Bartonella spp. co-infection was estimated and the assemblage and distribution of bartonellae lineages across the samples with respect to ecological and phylogenetic distance similarities were analyzed. Moreover, environmental factors that could explain potential differences between samples were investigated. Out of the 91 bartonellae-positive samples, 89% were found to be co-infected with more than two phylogenetically distant Bartonella genotypes and additional closely related (but distinguishable) variants. These bartonellae lineages were distributed in a non-random manner, and a negative interaction between lineages was discovered. Interestingly, the overall composition of those infections greatly varied among samples. This variability was partially explained by factors, such as type of sample (blood versus fleas), flea sex and period of collection. This investigation sheds light on the patterns of Bartonella infection and the organization of Bartonella lineages in fleas and rodents in nature.

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