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Symbiont dynamics during the blood meal of Ixodes ricinus nymphs differ according to their sex

Abstract : Ticks harbour rich and diverse microbiota and, among the microorganisms associated with them, endosymbionts are the subject of a growing interest due to their crucial role in the biology of their arthropod host. Midichloria mitochondrii is the main endosymbiont of the European tick Ixodes ricinus and is found in abundance in all I. ricinus females, while at a much lower density in males, where it is even absent in 56 % of the individuals. This endosymbiont is also known to increase in numbers after the blood meal of larvae, nymphs or females. Because of this difference in the prevalence of M. mitochondrii between the two sexes, surveying the density of these bacteria in nymphs that will become either females or males could help to understand the behaviour of Midichloria in its arthropod host. To this aim, we have set up an experimental design by building 3 groups of unfed nymphs based on their scutum and hypostome lengths. After engorgement, weighing and moulting of a subset of the nymphs, a significant difference in sex-ratio among the 3 groups was observed. In parallel, Midichloria load in individual nymphs was quantified by qPCR both before and after engorgement. No difference in either body mass or Midichloria load was observed at the unfed stage, but following engorgement, both features were significantly different between each size group. Our results demonstrate that symbiont dynamics during nymphal engorgement is different between the two sexes, resulting in a significantly higher Midichloria load in nymphs that will become females. The consequences of those findings on our understanding of the interplay between the endosymbiont and its arthropod host are discussed.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03229083
Contributor : Michel Leroux <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - 4:19:45 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, July 6, 2021 - 5:10:43 PM

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Romain Daveu, Cindy Laurence, Agnès Bouju-Albert, Davide Sassera, Olivier Plantard. Symbiont dynamics during the blood meal of Ixodes ricinus nymphs differ according to their sex. Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases, 2021, 12 (4), pp.1-9. ⟨10.1016/j.ttbdis.2021.101707⟩. ⟨hal-03229083⟩

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