Comparative evaluation of infected and noninfected Amblyomma triste ticks with Rickettsia parkeri, the agent of an emerging rickettsiosis in the New World

F A Nieri-Bastos, M P J Szabó, R C Pacheco, J F Soares, H S Soares, J Moraes-Filho, R A Dias, M B Labruna
BioMed Research International 2013, 2013: 402737
The distribution of Rickettsia parkeri in South America has been associated with Amblyomma triste ticks. The present study evaluated under laboratory conditions two colonies of A. triste: one started from engorged females that were naturally infected by R. parkeri (designated as infected group); the other started from noninfected females (designated as control group). Both colonies were reared in parallel for five consecutive generations. Tick-naïve domestic rabbits were used for feeding of each tick stage and generation. R. parkeri was preserved by transstadial maintenance and transovarial transmission in A. triste ticks for five consecutive generations, because all tested larvae, nymphs, and adults from the infected group were shown by PCR to contain rickettsial DNA. All rabbits infested by larvae, nymphs, and adults from the infected group seroconverted, indicating that these tick stages were all vector competent for R. parkeri. Expressive differences in mortality rates were observed between engorged nymphs from the infected and control groups, as indicated by 65.9% and 92.4% molting success, respectively. Our results indicate that A. triste can act as a natural reservoir for R. parkeri. However, due to deleterious effect caused by R. parkeri on engorged nymphs, amplifier vertebrate hosts might be necessary for natural long-term maintenance of R. parkeri in A. triste.

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