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International Journal of Microbiology
Volume 2014, Article ID 397143, 10 pages
Research Article

Exploring Diversity among Norwegian Borrelia Strains Originating from Ixodes ricinus Ticks

Faculty of Life Sciences, Aalesund University College, 6025 Ålesund, Norway

Received 7 March 2014; Accepted 13 August 2014; Published 27 August 2014

Academic Editor: Giuseppe Comi

Copyright © 2014 Ann-Kristin Tveten. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Characterisation of Borrelia strains from Ixodes ricinus ticks is important in the epidemiological surveillance of vector-borne pathogens. Multilocus sequences analysis (MLSA) is a molecular genotyping tool with high discriminatory power that has been applied in evolutionary studies and for the characterisation of Borrelia genospecies. MLSA was used to study genetic variations in Borrelia strains isolated from I. ricinus ticks collected from the woodlands in Skodje. The results demonstrate that the 50 Borrelia strains were separated into 36 sequence types (STs) that were not previously represented in the MLST database. A distance matrix neighbour-joining tree (bootstrapped 500 iterations) showed four deeply branched clusters, and each deeply branched cluster represented one Borrelia genospecies. The mean pairwise genetic differences confirm the genospecies clustering. The combination of alleles separates the Borrelia strains from northwest Norway from the strains in the MLST database, thus identifying new STs. Although a highly divergent B. afzelii population could be expected, the heterogeneity among the B. garinii strains is more unusual. The present study indicates that the circulation of strains between migrating birds and stationary birds in this coastal region may play a role in the evolution of B. garinii strains.