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Open AccessArticle

Tripartite Interactions among Ixodiphagus hookeri, Ixodes ricinus and Deer: Differential Interference with Transmission Cycles of Tick-Borne Pathogens

1
Centre for Infectious Disease Control, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Antonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, 3721 MA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
2
Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University & Research, 6708PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
3
Zoology Section, Department of Biology, Ege University Faculty of Science, Bornova Izmir 35040, Turkey
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Pathogens 2020, 9(5), 339; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9050339
Received: 1 April 2020 / Revised: 21 April 2020 / Accepted: 29 April 2020 / Published: 30 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Frontiers in Tick Research)
For the development of sustainable control of tick-borne diseases, insight is needed in biological factors that affect tick populations. Here, the ecological interactions among Ixodiphagus hookeri, Ixodes ricinus, and two vertebrate species groups were investigated in relation to their effects on tick-borne disease risk. In 1129 questing ticks, I. hookeri DNA was detected more often in I. ricinus nymphs (4.4%) than in larvae (0.5%) and not in adults. Therefore, we determined the infestation rate of I. hookeri in nymphs from 19 forest sites, where vertebrate, tick, and tick-borne pathogen communities had been previously quantified. We found higher than expected co-occurrence rates of I. hookeri with deer-associated Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and lower than expected rates with rodent-associated Borrelia afzelii and Neoehrlichia mikurensis. The prevalence of I. hookeri in nymphs varied between 0% and 16% and was positively correlated with the encounter probability of ungulates and the densities of all life stages of I. ricinus. Lastly, we investigated the emergence of I. hookeri from artificially fed, field-collected nymphs. Adult wasps emerged from seven of the 172 fed nymphs. From these observations, we inferred that I. hookeri is parasitizing I. ricinus larvae that are feeding on deer, rather than on rodents or in the vegetation. Since I. hookeri populations depend on deer abundance, the main propagation host of I. ricinus, these wasps have no apparent effect on tick populations. The presence of I. hookeri may directly interfere with the transmission cycle of A. phagocytophilum, but not with that of B. afzelii or N. mikurensis. View Full-Text
Keywords: parasitic wasp; biological control; tick-borne pathogen; host preference; parasitization; transmission cycle; Lyme borreliosis; human granulocytic anaplasmosis; neoehrlichiosis parasitic wasp; biological control; tick-borne pathogen; host preference; parasitization; transmission cycle; Lyme borreliosis; human granulocytic anaplasmosis; neoehrlichiosis
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Krawczyk, A.I.; Bakker, J.W.; Koenraadt, C.J.M.; Fonville, M.; Takumi, K.; Sprong, H.; Demir, S. Tripartite Interactions among Ixodiphagus hookeri, Ixodes ricinus and Deer: Differential Interference with Transmission Cycles of Tick-Borne Pathogens. Pathogens 2020, 9, 339.

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