Fleas are important arthropod vectors for a variety of diseases in veterinary and human medicine, and bacteria belonging to the genus Bartonella are among the organisms most commonly transmitted by these ectoparasites. Recently, a number of novel Bartonella species and novel species candidates have been reported in marsupial fleas in Australia. In the present study the genetic diversity of marsupial fleas was investigated; 10 species of fleas were collected from seven different marsupial and placental mammal hosts in Western Australia including woylies (Bettongia penicillata), western barred bandicoots (Perameles bougainville), mardos (Antechinus flavipes), bush rats (Rattus fuscipes), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), feral cats (Felis catus) and rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). PCR and sequence analysis of the cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) and the 18S rRNA genes from these fleas was performed. Concatenated phylogenetic analysis of the COI and 18S rRNA genes revealed a close genetic relationship between marsupial fleas, with Pygiopsylla hilli from woylies, Pygiopsylla tunneyi from western barred bandicoots and Acanthopsylla jordani from mardos, forming a separate cluster from fleas collected from the placental mammals in the same geographical area. The clustering of Bartonella species with their marsupial flea hosts suggests co-evolution of marsupial hosts, marsupial fleas and Bartonella species in Australia.
- Bartonella species
- Native animals