MALDI-TOF MS identification of ticks of domestic and wild animals in Algeria and molecular detection of associated microorganisms

Mehdi Boucheikhchoukh, Maureen Laroche, Atef Aouadi, Loubna Dib, Ahmed Benakhla, Didier Raoult, Philippe Parola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Recent studies have reported the reliability of MALDI-TOF MS for arthropod identification, including fresh or alcohol-preserved ticks based on leg-derived mass spectra. The aim of this study was to evaluate the performance of MALDI-TOF MS for the identification of alcohol-preserved Algerian ticks collected from different domestic and wild hosts. Secondly, we conducted a molecular survey to detect the presence of bacterial DNA in all ticks that were previously subjected to MALDI-TOF MS. A total of 2635 ixodid and 1401 argasid ticks belonging to 9 distinct species were collected in nine different regions of northeastern Algeria. The legs of 230 specimens were subjected to MALDI-TOF MS assays. Spectral analysis revealed intra-species similarity and inter-species specificity for the MS spectra, which was consistent with the morphological identification. Blind tests against the in-lab database revealed that 93.48% of the tested specimens were correctly identified. The accuracy of the morphological and MALDI-TOF MS identifications was validated by sequencing the 12S ribosomal RNA gene (rRNA) for 33 specimens and all the ticks were correctly identified. The quantitative PCR screening showed that for 219 tested ticks, 15 were positive for Rickettsia spp., 8 for Borrelia spp. and 17 for Anaplasmataceae. The PCR tests were negative for Coxiella burnetii and Bartonella spp. This study supports MALDI-TOF MS being a reliable tool for the identification of arthropods and brings new data that sheds light on tick species diversity and tick-borne diseases in Algeria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-49
Number of pages11
JournalComparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Algeria
  • Tick-borne diseases
  • Ticks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • General Veterinary
  • Infectious Diseases


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