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Population genetic structure of Ixodes ricinus in Switzerland from allozymic data: no evidence of divergence between nearby sites.

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Abstract

Ixodes ricinus is a vector and reservoir of numerous infectious agents, especially Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of
Lyme disease. In Switzerland, its ecology and physiology have been well studied. Moreover, the foci of some infectious agents transmitted by this tick are identified. They can display relatively to extremely small geographical size depending on the diseases considered. In order to understand how the gene flows occur and to characterise the genetic structure of Ixodes ricinus populations, we used an indirect method based on genetic markers: allozymes. The sampling was carried out in 5 localities. Eighteen loci were analysed and 2 appeared polymorphic. This shows the low allozymic variability displayed by Ixodes ricinus. Based on these 2 loci, the populations appeared panmictic in Switzerland. This may be explained by the wide range of vertebrate species this tick can infest, especially birds. However, the result is surprising if we consider the extreme localisation of the foci of some infectious agents. We conclude that more powerful genetic markers could be used in order to better understand the epidemiology of tick-borne diseases in Switzerland.

Int J Parasitol. 1997 Jul;27(7):769-73. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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