Molecular and MALDI-TOF identification of ticks and tick-associated bacteria in Mali

Adama Zan Diarra, Lionel Almeras, Maureen Laroche, Jean Michel Berenger, Abdoulaye K. Koné, Zakaria Bocoum, Abdoulaye Dabo, Ogobara Doumbo, Didier Raoult, Philippe Parola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Ticks are considered the second vector of human and animal diseases after mosquitoes. Therefore, identification of ticks and associated pathogens is an important step in the management of these vectors. In recent years, mass spectrometry of the laser disorder / matrix assisted ionization (MALDI-TOF MS) has been reported as a promising method for the identification of arthropods including ticks. The objective of this study was to improve the conditions for the preparation of tick samples for their identification by MALDI-TOF MS from field-collected ethanol-stored Malian samples and to evaluate the capacity of this technology to distinguish infected and uninfected ticks. A total of 1,333 ticks were collected from mammals in three distinct sites from Mali. Morphological identification allowed classification of ticks into 6 species including Amblyomma variegatum, Hyalomma truncatum, Hyalomma marginatum rufipes, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, Rhipicephalus evertsi eversti and Rhipîcephalus sanguineus sl. Among those, 471 ticks were randomly selected for molecular and proteomic analyses. Tick legs submitted to MALDI-TOF MS revealed a concordant morpho/molecular identification of 99.6%. The inclusion in our MALDI-TOF MS arthropod database of MS reference spectra from ethanol-preserved tick leg specimens was required to obtain reliable identification. When tested by molecular tools, 76.6%, 37.6%, 20.8% and 1.1% of the specimens tested were positive for Rickettsia spp., Coxiella burnetii, Anaplasmataceae and Borrelia spp., respectively. These results support the fact that MALDI-TOF is a reliable tool for the identification of ticks conserved in alcohol and enhances knowledge about the diversity of tick species and pathogens transmitted by ticks circulating in Mali.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0005762
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 24 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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