The ehrlichial gene was detected in small rodents trapped in a
Lyme disease-endemic area in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. Primer pairs of 16S rDNA targeting the genus Ehrlichia and other regions of the 16S rDNA specific for E. chaffeensis and E. muris were used for identification. The DNA fragment specific for 16S rDNA of Ehrlichia spp. was detected in 4 of 94 Apodemus speciosus mice (positive rate: 4.3%) and 5 of 73 Clethrionomys rufocanus bedfordiae mice (positive rate: 6.8%). The nucleotide sequence of the amplified 16S rDNA fragment was most similar to those of E. muris-like Ehrlichia, Ehrlichia spp. HF565 and Shizuoka-36, originating in the northern and central parts of Japan. In phylogenetic analysis based on 16S rDNA sequences, the northern, central and western groups of E. muris-like Ehrlichia from a cluster with microorganisms of the E. muris group. These results suggest that there are a group of E. muris microorganisms and a group of E. muris- like microorganisms in Japan.