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The 16S rRNA sequences of the Korean Borrelia strains 5MT and 9MT, isolated from Ixodes nipponensis, showed identities of 99.0-99.1% to that of B. afzelii. The strains were tentatively classified as belonging to the B. afzelii-related group. In this study, Korean isolates, including these strains, were characterized further and compared with recently described new species. These strains generated a RFLP pattern that has not been found previously in RFLP analysis of the 5S-23S rRNA intergenic spacer and the flagellin gene. When phylogenetic trees were constructed, based on the 5S-23S rRNA intergenic spacer, flagellin gene and 16S rRNA sequences, these Korean isolates formed a cluster with the Borrelia strain Am501 isolated from Ixodes columnae in Japan and Borrelia valaisiana strains VS116T and UK isolated from Ixodes ricinus in Europe and were distinguishable from the other species. However, these three groups of strains were divergent from each other in the molecular masses of the putative outer surface protein A (OspA) and in the sequences of the ospA gene. These findings suggest that these Korean isolates and one Japanese isolate are members of B. valaisiana and that OspA of this species is divergent, as is that of Borrelia garinii. This led to the speculation that B. valaisiana strains are adapted to the vector ticks found in each locality.