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Molecular polymorphism of the ospC gene has been reported in Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, Borrelia garinii and Borrelia afzelii, the spirochetes causing human
Lyme borreliosis. To assess the genetic relationship between ospC genes from the recently described Borrelia valaisiana sp. nov. and other B. burgdorferi sensu lato species, the ospC genes from eight B. valaisiana isolates were amplified by PCR, cloned and sequenced. The ospC genes of three B. valaisiana isolates were identical, but clearly distinct from ospC genes from other Borrelia species. Four B. valaisiana isolates possessed ospC genes more related to those of B. garinii, and fell into a cluster representing B. garinii species in the phylogenetic tree. One isolate had an ospC gene encoding a protein identical to that of B. afzelii strain. Since five of the eight (62.5%) B. valaisiana isolates contained a gene highly homologous or even identical to ospC genes found among B. garinii and B. afzelii strains, our findings indicate that ospC gene transfer occurs between B. valaisiana and other
Lyme disease spirochetes.