Leptotrombidium scutellare mites, the vector of Orientia tsutsugamushi, have rarely been reported to associate with Rickettsia species. Three hundred nineteen chiggers were collected from the ears of 32 rodents captured in Huangdao District of Qingdao City, China, in October 2015. The chigger samples were tested for Rickettsia, severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus, and hantavirus by PCR or RT-PCR amplification. All mites were classified morphologically and molecularly as L. scutellare chiggers. Rickettsial DNA sequences were amplified for four genes including 16S rRNA, ompB, gltA, and 17 kD protein genes. The minimum infection rate (MIR; number of positive pools/total specimens tested) of the Rickettsia species in the chiggers were 2.8% (9/319). Phylogenetic analysis indicated that individual genes were closely related to different Rickettsia species including R. felis (with 16S rRNA gene), R. australis (with gltA gene), an unnamed Rickettsia sp. TwKM02 (with ompB gene), and Rickettsia endosymbiont of soft tick Ornithodoros erraticus (with 17 kD protein gene). Phylogenic analysis of the concatenated sequence of 16S rRNA, gltA, ompB, and 17 kD protein genes indicated that the Rickettsia species from L. scutellare chigger was most closely related to R. australis and R. akari. These results indicated that the Rickettsia species in chiggers was unique; it was named Candidatus Rickettsia leptotrombidium. Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus and hantavirus were not amplified from the chiggers, suggesting lack of infection of these pathogens in the chiggers. A unique Rickettsia species was detected in L. scutellare, which expanded the knowledge on the vector distribution of Rickettsia.
- Candidatus Rickettsia leptotrombidium
- Leptotrombidium scutellare
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science
- Infectious Diseases