Extensive sex-specific and regional variations observed in the microbiome of Dermacentor reticulatus.
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Recent progress in DNA sequencing technologies and advanced bioinformatic tools have enabled researchers to rapidly decipher the tick microbiome. To date, however, a number of microbiome studies performed on Dermacentor reticulatus ticks is still quite limited. Despite the importance of this ixodid tick for veterinary and human medicine, only two investigations have examined its microbiome. Moreover, these studies analyzed only a limited number of ticks/tick pools. Given the scarcity of microbiome data for D. reticulatus in general and the lack of microbiome studies on tick species from Eastern Europe in particular, the objective of the current investigation was to analyze the microbiome of D. reticulatus ticks collected from three geographical regions of Ukraine. A total of 88 individual tick microbiomes were analyzed by sequencing the V6 region of 16S rRNA. As a result, numerous significant differences in the bacterial relative abundance were detected between males and females of D. reticulatus for each region. The alpha diversity measures indicate that microbiomes were significantly different between females of D. reticulatus inter-regionally. In contrast, the collective results for male ticks are more suggestive of inter-regional microbiome homogeneity. The overall findings indicate that the composition and diversity of the D. reticulatus microbiome can be impacted by geographical and sex-related factors.