Borrelia species of relapsing fever (RF) and
Lyme disease (LD) lineages have linear chromosomes and both linear and circular plasmids. Unique to RF species, and little characterized to date, are large linear plasmids of ?160 kb, or ?10% of the genome. By a combination of Sanger and next-generation methods, we determined the sequences of large linear plasmids of two New World species: Borrelia hermsii, to completion of its 174-kb length, and B. turicatae, partially to 114 kb of its 150 kb. These sequences were then compared to corresponding sequences of the Old World species B. duttonii and B. recurrentis and to plasmid sequences of LD Borrelia species. The large plasmids were largely colinear, except for their left ends, about 27 kb of which was inverted in New World species. Approximately 60% of the B. hermsii lp174 plasmid sequence was repetitive for 6 types of sequence, and half of its open reading frames encoded hypothetical proteins not discernibly similar to proteins in the database. The central ?25 kb of all 4 linear plasmids was syntenic for orthologous genes for plasmid maintenance or partitioning in Borrelia species. Of all the sequenced linear and circular plasmids in Borrelia species, the large plasmid’s putative partition/replication genes were most similar to those of the 54-kb linear plasmids of LD species. Further evidence for shared ancestry was the observation that two of the hypothetical proteins were predicted to be structurally similar to the LD species’ CspA proteins, which are encoded on the 54-kb plasmids.