Title

Molecular Strain Typing for the Tick-Borne Pathogen Rickettsia parkeri

Presenting Author Name/s

Rebecca Ferrara

Faculty Advisor

David Gauthier

Presentation Type

Poster

Disciplines

Bioinformatics | Molecular Biology

Description/Abstract

Rickettsia parkeri is one of a group of bacteria that cause Spotted Fever Group Rickettsioses (SFGR) in humans. Spotted Fever Group Rickettsioses can cause fever, headaches, rashes, muscle aches, and an eschar and some, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (R. rickettsii) can be fatal. R. parkeri, which is transmitted to humans by the Gulf Coast Tick (Amblyomma maculatum), causes a milder SFGR. In its historic range along the US Gulf Coast and the southeastern US, R. parkeri has prevalence of 1-15% in A. maculatum. However, in the Tidewater region of Virginia, where A. maculatum is a recent invader, prevalence reaches 50-60%. One hypothesis for this disparity is that there are different strains of R. parkeri present in these separate areas. Previous studies have not been able to demonstrate strain variation in R. parkeri; however, most of these studies have only performed typing at single genes. In this work, we aim to identify additional genetic markers for strain typing of R. parkeri. To accomplish this goal, we performed comparative genomics on four complete R. parkeri genomes, locating variable regions between strains. This analysis yielded 14 variable intergenic spacer regions and >30 SNP loci. We are currently optimizing primers and PCR conditions for these loci and assessing their variability in R. parkeri infected ticks from the Tidewater area. Preliminary data from the DKS-xerC intergenic spacer locus will be presented.

Session Title

Poster Session

Location

Learning Commons @ Perry Library, Northwest Atrium

Start Date

2-2-2019 8:00 AM

End Date

2-2-2019 12:30 PM

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Feb 2nd, 8:00 AM Feb 2nd, 12:30 PM

Molecular Strain Typing for the Tick-Borne Pathogen Rickettsia parkeri

Learning Commons @ Perry Library, Northwest Atrium

Rickettsia parkeri is one of a group of bacteria that cause Spotted Fever Group Rickettsioses (SFGR) in humans. Spotted Fever Group Rickettsioses can cause fever, headaches, rashes, muscle aches, and an eschar and some, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (R. rickettsii) can be fatal. R. parkeri, which is transmitted to humans by the Gulf Coast Tick (Amblyomma maculatum), causes a milder SFGR. In its historic range along the US Gulf Coast and the southeastern US, R. parkeri has prevalence of 1-15% in A. maculatum. However, in the Tidewater region of Virginia, where A. maculatum is a recent invader, prevalence reaches 50-60%. One hypothesis for this disparity is that there are different strains of R. parkeri present in these separate areas. Previous studies have not been able to demonstrate strain variation in R. parkeri; however, most of these studies have only performed typing at single genes. In this work, we aim to identify additional genetic markers for strain typing of R. parkeri. To accomplish this goal, we performed comparative genomics on four complete R. parkeri genomes, locating variable regions between strains. This analysis yielded 14 variable intergenic spacer regions and >30 SNP loci. We are currently optimizing primers and PCR conditions for these loci and assessing their variability in R. parkeri infected ticks from the Tidewater area. Preliminary data from the DKS-xerC intergenic spacer locus will be presented.