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Distinguishing Species and Populations of Rhipicephaline Ticks with ITS 2 Ribosomal RNA

Stephen C. Barker
The Journal of Parasitology
Vol. 84, No. 5 (Oct., 1998), pp. 887-892
DOI: 10.2307/3284614
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3284614
Page Count: 6
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Distinguishing Species and Populations of Rhipicephaline Ticks with ITS 2 Ribosomal RNA
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Abstract

Most populations and some species of ticks of the genera Boophilus (5 spp.) and Rhipicephalus (ca. 75 spp.) cannot be distinguished phenotypically. Moreover, there is doubt about the validity of species in these genera. I studied the entire second internal transcribed spacer (ITS 2) rRNA of 16 populations of rhipicephaline ticks to address these problems: Boophilus microplus from Australia, Kenya, South Africa and Brazil (4 populations); Boophilus decoloratus from Kenya; Rhipicephalus appendiculatus from Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia (7 populations); Rhipicephalus zambesiensis from Zimbabwe (3 populations); and Rhipicephalus evertsi from Kenya. Each of the 16 populations had a unique ITS 2, but most of the nucleotide variation occurred among species and genera. ITS 2 rRNA can be used to distinguish the populations and species of Boophilus and Rhipicephalus studied here. Little support was found for the hypothesis that B. microplus from Australia and South Africa are different species. ITS 2 appears useful for phylogenetic inference in the Rhipicephalinae because in genetic distance, maximum likelihood, and maximum parsimony analyses, most branches leading to species had >95% bootstrap support. Rhipicephalus appendiculatus and R. zambeziensis are closely related, yet their ITS 2 sequences could be distinguished unambiguously. This lends weight to a previous proposal that Rhipicephalus sanguineus and Rhipicephalus turanicus, and Rhipicephalus pumilio and Rhipicephalus camicasi, respectively, are conspecific, because each of these pairs of species had identical sequences for ca. 250 bp of ITS 2 rRNA.

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