We assessed the effects of sympatric (occupying the same or overlapping geographic areas) and allopatric (occurring in separate geographic areas) isolates of Anaplasma phagocytophilum on the survival of Ixodes scapularis Say larvae that were derived from ticks collected in Bridgeport, CT. Seven isolates of A. phagocytophilum, originating from different geographic regions of the United States, were tested: four isolates from the northeast (Bridgeport, Dawson, Gaillard, and NY-8), two from the Midwest (Webster and Sp-Is), and one from California (MRK). BALB/c mice were infected with each of the seven isolates via exposure to infected I. scapularis nymphs, whereas uninfected nymphs fed upon control mice. Both infected and control mice were infested with uninfected larvae at 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 9 wk after nymphal infestation. The molting success in cohorts of infected and uninfected ticks was calculated as the percentage of larvae successfully molting into nymphal stage, and the prevalence of infection in molted nymphs was determined by polymerase chain reaction. In ticks that became infected with the Bridgeport or Sp-Is isolates, the molting success decreased with an increase in the prevalence of infection. Ticks that fed upon mice infected with six allopatric isolates (Dawson, Gaillard, NY-8, Sp-Is, Webster, and MRK) showed significantly lower levels of survival than those fed upon control mice, regardless of the prevalence of infection, whereas in ticks fed upon mice infected with a sympatric isolate (Bridgeport), the overall molting success was similar to the control. Thus, some but not all of the A. phagocytophilum isolates have adverse effects on ticks. Ticks exposed to harmful isolates may experience higher levels of bacterial metabolism, and/or reduced quality of their blood meal, thereby reducing their survival. Noted differences between isolates may be due to the origin of a particular isolate and/or the degree of coadaptation between the pathogen and its vector on the population level.
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