Geodemographic analysis of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato using the 5S-23S rDNA spacer region

E.C. Coipan, M. Fonville, E. Tijsse-Klasen, J.W.B. van der Giessen, W. Takken, H. Sprong, K. Takumi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Lyme borreliosis is the predominant tick-borne disease in the Northern hemisphere, with considerable heterogeneity in clinical manifestations. Here, we evaluated one genetic marker for its use in population genetic based analysis. For that we collected molecular and epidemiological records of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato isolates from ticks, animals and humans at various sites in The Netherlands and worldwide. Methods: The 5S-23S rDNA (rrfA-rrlB) intergenic spacer region (IGS) from 291 Dutch Borrelia positive ticks was sequenced and compared to Borrelia sequences from GenBank. We estimated several population genetic measures to test the neutrality of the marker. We also assessed the ability of this marker to discriminate between Eurasian Borrelieae at a finer geographical resolution, and to detect population expansion per genospecies. Results: The most prevalent genospecies in The Netherlands was Borrelia afzelii, whereas Borrelia garinii, B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, Borrelia spielmanii and Borrelia valaisiana were found less frequently. The result of the Ewens-Watterson-Slatkin test was consistent with neutral selection of IGS region. Estimated pairwise fixation indices (Fst) were significantly different from zero between The Netherlands, the rest of Europe, Russia and Asia for B. afzelii and Borrelia garinii. Estimated Fu's Fs were significantly negative for B. afzelii and B. garinii. Conclusions: At least seven B. burgdorferi s.l. genospecies circulate in Ixodes ricinus population in The Netherlands. The population genetic analyses of IGS region can resolve subpopulations within a genospecies and detect a large excess of rare genetic variants at the genospecies level. A genetic trace of population expansion for B. afzelii and B. garinii is consistent with the reported increase in Lyme borreliosis incidence in European countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-222
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • ixodes-ricinus ticks
  • lyme borreliosis
  • clinical-manifestations
  • genetic-variability
  • population-genetics
  • housekeeping genes
  • sequence-analysis
  • bloodmeal source
  • borne diseases
  • netherlands


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