Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Evolutionary Biology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Allopatric speciation in ticks: genetic and reproductive divergence between geographic strains of Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus

Marcelo B Labruna1, Victoria Naranjo2, Atilio J Mangold3, Carolina Thompson3, Agustín Estrada-Peña4, Alberto A Guglielmone3, Frans Jongejan56 and José de la Fuente27*

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Medicina Veterinária Preventiva e Saúde Animal, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, 05508-270, Brazil

2 Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, 13005 Ciudad Real, Spain

3 Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, Estación Experimental Agropecuaria Rafaela, CC 22, CP 2300 Rafaela, Santa Fe, Argentina

4 Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad de Zaragoza, Miguel Servet 177, 50013-Zaragoza, Spain

5 Utrecht Centre for Tick-borne Diseases (UCTD), Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 1, 3584CL, Utrecht, The Netherlands

6 Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X04, 0110, Onderstepoort, South Africa

7 Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2009, 9:46  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-46

Published: 25 February 2009

Abstract

Background

The cattle tick, Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus, economically impact cattle industry in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The morphological and genetic differences among R. microplus strains have been documented in the literature, suggesting that biogeographical and ecological separation may have resulted in boophilid ticks from America/Africa and those from Australia being different species. To test the hypothesis of the presence of different boophilid species, herein we performed a series of experiments to characterize the reproductive performance of crosses between R. microplus from Australia, Africa and America and the genetic diversity of strains from Australia, Asia, Africa and America.

Results

The results showed that the crosses between Australian and Argentinean or Mozambican strains of boophilid ticks are infertile while crosses between Argentinean and Mozambican strains are fertile. These results showed that tick strains from Africa (Mozambique) and America (Argentina) are the same species, while ticks from Australia may actually represent a separate species. The genetic analysis of mitochondrial 12S and 16S rDNA and microsatellite loci were not conclusive when taken separately, but provided evidence that Australian tick strains were genetically different from Asian, African and American strains.

Conclusion

The results reported herein support the hypothesis that at least two different species share the name R. microplus. These species could be redefined as R. microplus (Canestrini, 1887) (for American and African strains) and probably the old R. australis Fuller, 1899 (for Australian strains), which needs to be redescribed. However, experiments with a larger number of tick strains from different geographic locations are needed to corroborate these results.