Morphological and molecular characterization of Amblyomma variegatum (Acari: Ixodidae) ticks from Nigeria
The association of most tick-borne pathogens with specific tick species has made it imperative that proper identification and characterization of such tick vectors is necessary for the purpose of developing effective tick and tick-borne control strategies. This study was undertaken to identify and characterize Amblyomma species ticks collected from cattle in Plateau State, North-Central, Nigeria. They were morphologically identified using diagnostic characters. Further confirmation and characterization was done genetically using a 460bp-long partial fragment of the 16S rRNA gene amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The amplified fragment was cloned and sequenced for the phylogenetic dendogram. All the examined ticks were identified as A. variegatum which was confirmed by 16S rRNA gene sequences analysis, and phylogenetic inferences showed a 99% similarity and grouping to A. variegatum of African origin. However, the A. variegatum sequences from Nigeria were clustered into 2 groups, but formed a distinct clade from the A. variegatum sequence from Ethiopia. This study was able to conclusively identify and characterize A. variegatum ticks from the study areas by utilizing morphology and molecular genotyping based on sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene.
Keywords: Amblyomma variegatum, Morphology, 16S rRNA, PCR, Sequencing