Identification of closely related Ixodes species by protein profiling with MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry

Autoři: Pierre H. Boyer aff001;  Lionel Almeras aff002;  Olivier Plantard aff005;  Antoine Grillon aff001;  Émilie Talagrand-Reboul aff001;  Karen McCoy aff006;  Benoît Jaulhac aff001;  Nathalie Boulanger aff001
Působiště autorů: EA 7290: Early Bacterial Virulence: Group, CHRU Strasbourg, Fédération de Médecine Translationnelle, Strasbourg, France aff001;  Unité Parasitologie et Entomologie, Département Microbiologie et maladies infectieuses, Institut de Recherche Biomédicale des Armées, Marseille, France aff002;  Aix Marseille Univ, IRD, SSA, AP-HM, VITROME, Marseille, France aff003;  IHU Méditerranée Infection, Marseille, France aff004;  BIOEPAR, INRA, Oniris, Université Bretagne Loire, Nantes, France aff005;  Maladies Infectieuses & Vecteurs: Ecologie, Génétique, Evolution & Contrôle (MIVEGEC), Université de Montpellier–CNRS—IRD, Centre IRD, Montpellier, France aff006;  French National Reference Center for , Hôpitaux Universitaires de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France aff007
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223735


Ticks are vectors of infectious diseases of major importance in human and veterinary medicine. For epidemiological studies, accurate identification of ticks is crucial to define their potential role as vectors and to develop control and prevention strategies. Although morphological and molecular methods are widely used to identify ticks, an innovative approach using MALDI-TOF MS technology recently emerged as an alternative tool. Previous works showed that MALDI-TOF MS was highly effective in identifying ticks, but these works mainly tested tick specimens of different genera. To confirm the accuracy of this new tool for tick identification, nine closely related tick species belonging to the Ixodes genus were analysed, specimens of the Dermacentor reticulatus species were also included in the analysis as an outer group. Three of the species used for the present study belonged to the I. ricinus species complex, which are known to transmit Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis. A total of 246 tick specimens were submitted to MALDI-TOF MS analysis, and two body parts (half-idiosoma and four legs) were individually investigated. For each body part, intraspecies reproducibility and interspecies specificity of the MS profiles were determined. The profile analysis revealed that the main determinant for spectra clustering was the tick species for both legs and half-idiosoma. For each body part, a reference database of spectra was set up including 2 to 5 specimens per species randomly selected, and genotyped using 16s rDNA and COI genes to confirm their morphological identification. Both created spectral databases were individually blind tested with their respective body part using the remaining specimens, which were correctly identified in 98.5% of the cases. MALDI-TOF MS is a reliable tool for tick identification, including specimens belonging to closely related species and hardly distinguishable using morphology. The 4-legs as well as the half-idiosoma of ticks can now be applied for specimen identification using two different databases. The combined use of these two body parts improves the rate of tick identification and their confidence level.

Klíčová slova:

Ixodes – Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry – Sequence databases – Species delimitation – Ticks – Ricinus – Lyme disease – Borrelia burgdorferi


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2019 Číslo 10