Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2021

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Shahid Karim

Committee Chair School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Member 2

Dr. Fengwei Bai

Committee Member 2 School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Member 3

Dr. Alex Flynt

Committee Member 3 School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Member 4

None

Abstract

Migratory birds often serve as natural/accidental hosts to ectoparasites like ticks (predominantly immature stages) and are known reservoirs of several pathogens transmitted by ticks. Parasitizing these birds, exotic tick species often hitch rides to non-native ecological niches, bringing along tick-borne pathogens. This study aims to profile the bacteriome of exotic tick species flying in and out of the US from the Neo-tropical South. A total of 421 tick samples comprised of several different tick species were collected off migratory songbirds at sites north of the Gulf of Mexico (Louisiana State). A 16S rRNA metagenomic multiplexed sequencing approach was used to assess the microbial communities associated with these exotic tick species. The sequencing generated >11 million reads from 400 libraries, an average of 27,253 reads/library; the total number of OTUs obtained was 20,153. Collected ticks belonged to Amblyomma, Ixodes, and Haemaphysalis genera; their bacteriome was predominantly dominated by Francisella, with a varying abundance of Rickettsia, Candidatus Midichloria mitochondrii and Cutibacterium (actinobacteria). Co-occurrence of Coxiella and Francisella were observed in three species: Amblyomma geayi, Amblyomma coelebs, and Amblyomma calacaratum. Coxiella had majority in only Amblyomma geayi. The overall highest diversity at genus level was found in Ixodes genera. Spotted fever group rickettsiae were detected in samples of Amblyomma sabanerae and Amblyomma maculatum. These findings provide an insight into the bacterial communities residing within the tick species parasitizing migratory birds.

ORCID ID

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9981-5992

Available for download on Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Share

COinS