Identification and Characterization of “Candidatus Rickettsia Thierseensis”, a Novel Spotted Fever Group Rickettsia Species Detected in Austria

Schötta et al. (2020). Microorganisms 8 (11)
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Microbiology Microbiology (medical) Virology
Rickettsia spp. are the second most common pathogens detected in Ixodes ricinus ticks in Austria after Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. Species belonging to the spotted fever group (SFG) are the causative agents for tick-borne rickettsiosis across the world. So far, only four SFG Rickettsia spp. were detected in Austria, namely R. helvetica, R. raoultii, R. monacensis and R. slovaca. Here, we describe the identification of a new SFG Rickettsia species detected in an I. ricinus tick. Sequencing of various rickettsial genes revealed a nucleotide sequence similarity of 99.6%, 98.5%, 97.3% and 98.5% to the gltA, ompA, ompB, and sca4 genes, respectively, of known and validated species. Additionally, sequencing of the htrA gene and 23S-5S intergenic spacer region also only showed 99.6% and 99.2%, respectively, similarity to known species. Therefore, and in accordance with current criteria for Rickettsia species discrimination, we hereby describe a new species of the SFG with putative pathogenic potential. We propose the name “Candidatus Rickettsia thierseensis” based on the village Thiersee in the Austrian province of Tyrol, where the carrying tick was found.
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