Metagenomic analysis of individually analyzed ticks from Eastern Europe demonstrates regional and sex-dependent differences in the microbiota of Ixodes ricinus Academic Article uri icon


  • Understanding the microbial ecology of disease vectors may be useful for development of novel strategies aimed at preventing transmission of vector-borne pathogens. Although Ixodes ricinus is one of the most important tick vectors, the microbiota of this tick has been examined for only limited parts of the globe. To date, the microbiota of I. ricinus ticks collected from Eastern Europe has not been defined. The objective of this study was to compare microbiota of I. ricinus ticks within (males vs. females) and between collection sites that represented three administrative regions of Ukraine, Dnipropetrovs'k (D), Kharkiv (K), and Poltava (P). A total of 89 questing I. ricinus adults were collected from region D (number of ticks, n = 29; 14 males and 15 females), region K (n = 30; 15 males and 15 females) and region P (n = 30; 15 males and 15 females). Each tick was subjected to metagenomic analysis by targeting the V6 region of 16S rRNA gene through the Illumina 4000 Hiseq sequencing. The alpha diversity analysis demonstrated that, regardless of tick sex, patterns of bacterial diversity in ticks from regions K and P were similar, whereas the microbiota of region D ticks was quite distinct. A number of inter-regional differences were detected by most beta diversity metrics for both males and females. The inter-regional variations were also supported by the principal coordinate analysis based on the unweighted UniFrac metrics with three region-specific clusters of female ticks and one distinct cluster of region D males. Lastly, numerous region- and sex-specific differences were also identified in the relative abundance of various bacterial taxa. Collectively, the present findings demonstrate that the microbiota of the I. ricinus tick can exhibit a high degree of variation between tick sexes and geographical regions.

author list (cited authors)

  • Batool, M., Blazier, J. C., Rogovska, Y. V., Wang, J., Liu, S., Nebogatkin, I. V., & Rogovskyy, A. S.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021 11:11 AM