Introduction. Bartonellosis is an emerging zoonotic disease caused by bacteria of the genus Bartonella. Mixed Bartonella infections are a well-documented phenomenon in mammals and their ectoparasites. The accurate identification of Bartonella species in single and mixed infections is valuable, as different Bartonella species have varying impacts on infected hosts. Gap Statement. Current diagnostic methods are inadequate at identifying the Bartonella species present in mixed infections. Aim. The aim of this study was to adopt a Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) approach using Illumina sequencing technology to identify Bartonella species and demonstrate that this approach can resolve mixed Bartonella infections. Methodology. We used Illumina PCR amplicon NGS to target the ssrA and gltA genes of Bartonella in fleas collected from cats, dogs and a hedgehog in Israel. We included artificially mixed Bartonella samples to demonstrate the ability for NGS to resolve mixed infections and we compared NGS to traditional Sanger sequencing. Results. In total, we identified 74 Ctenocephalides felis, two Ctenocephalides canis, two Pulex irritans and three Archaeopsylla e. erinacei fleas. Real-time PCR of a subset of 48 fleas revealed that twelve were positive for Bartonella, all of which were cat fleas. Sanger sequencing of the ssrA and gltA genes confirmed the presence of Bartonella henselae, Bartonella clarridgeiae and Bartonella koehlerae. Illumina NGS of ssrA and gltA amplicons further confirmed the Bartonella species identity in all 12 flea samples and unambiguously resolved the artificially mixed Bartonella samples. Conclusion. The adaptation and multiplexing of existing PCR assays for diversity profiling via NGS is a feasible approach that is superior to traditional Sanger sequencing for Bartonella speciation and resolving mixed Bartonella infections. The adaptation of other PCR primers for Illumina NGS will be useful in future studies where mixed bacterial infections may be present.
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- Next Generation Sequencing