The effect of ecological and temporal factors on the composition of Bartonella infection in rodents and their fleas

Ricardo Gutiérrez, Danny Morick, Carmit Cohen, Hadas Hawlena, Shimon Harrus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The composition of Bartonella infection was explored in wild Gerbillus andersoni rodents and their Synosternus cleopatrae fleas. Rodent blood samples and fleas were collected in two periods (two different seasons; 4 months apart) from juveniles and adult hosts, and their bartonellae lineages were identified by a 454-pyrosequencing analysis targeting a specific Bartonella citrate synthase gene (gltA) fragment. The rate of Bartonella spp. co-infection was estimated and the assemblage and distribution of bartonellae lineages across the samples with respect to ecological and phylogenetic distance similarities were analyzed. Moreover, environmental factors that could explain potential differences between samples were investigated. Out of the 91 bartonellae-positive samples, 89% were found to be co-infected with more than two phylogenetically distant Bartonella genotypes and additional closely related (but distinguishable) variants. These bartonellae lineages were distributed in a non-random manner, and a negative interaction between lineages was discovered. Interestingly, the overall composition of those infections greatly varied among samples. This variability was partially explained by factors, such as type of sample (blood versus fleas), flea sex and period of collection. This investigation sheds light on the patterns of Bartonella infection and the organization of Bartonella lineages in fleas and rodents in nature.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1598-1608
Number of pages11
JournalISME Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the ISRAEL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (ISF; Grant No. 30/11 to SH) and by Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (CIG; Grant number FP7-293713 to HH). We thank Dr Zohar Pasternak for his professional assistance and Nadezhda Burdelova (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel) for the taxonomic identification of fleas.


  • Bartonella
  • co-infection
  • fleas
  • gltA
  • pyrosequencing
  • rodents


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