Exploring the prevalence and diversity of bovine ticks in five agro-ecological zones of Pakistan using phenetic and genetic tools
AuthorGhafar, A; Gasser, RB; Rashid, I; Ghafoor, A; Jabbar, A
Source TitleTicks and Tick-borne Diseases
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsGhafar, A., Gasser, R. B., Rashid, I., Ghafoor, A. & Jabbar, A. (2020). Exploring the prevalence and diversity of bovine ticks in five agro-ecological zones of Pakistan using phenetic and genetic tools. TICKS AND TICK-BORNE DISEASES, 11 (5), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ttbdis.2020.101472.
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Tick infestation is a leading cause of tick-worry and tick-borne diseases in livestock and associated economic losses in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The cattle and buffalo populations in Pakistan are exposed to tick infestation throughout the year, but very little is known about the biology, diversity and distribution of tick species across different agro-ecological zones (AEZ) of the country. The present study aimed to investigate the prevalence (number of bovines infested with ticks out of the investigated population) and diversity of hard ticks infesting bovines in 30 villages located in five distinct AEZs (i.e. Arid, Indus delta, Northern irrigated plain, Sandy desert and Southern irrigated plain). We collected a total of 774 ticks (adult and nymphs) from cattle (n = 116) and water buffaloes (n = 88) on small-holder dairy farms (with <10 bovids per establishment) from September to November 2017. The overall tick prevalence was 46.1% (cattle: 47.9%; buffaloes: 44%), which varied significantly from 22.2% in the Indus delta to 70.5% in the Sandy desert. Tick prevalence was slightly higher in female (46.5%) than male animals (45%), and higher in calves (i.e. ≤ 1 year of age) (55%) than in young animals (i.e. up to 3 years of age) (39%) and adults (48%). Five tick species - Hyalomma anatolicum, Hyalomma hussaini, Hyalomma scupense, Rhipicephalus microplus and Rhipicephalus annulatus - were identified morphologically and then genetically. Genetic identification, achieved using the sequences of two mitochondrial (cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 and 16S) and one nuclear ribosomal (second internal transcribed spacer) regions, was consistent with the morphological findings. Phylogenetic analyses of the DNA sequence data sets showed that the five species of tick identified here were closely related to the same species or closely related species from within and outside of Pakistan. Of five presently recognised taxa within the R. microplus complex, two were identified herein, including the R. microplus clade C and R. annulatus. This investigation provides the first genetic evidence of the occurrence of R. annulatus in Pakistan as well as Hy. hussaini and Hy. scupense in bovines specifically in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab, respectively. The present findings emphasise the importance of combining morphological and molecular approaches to study the diversity of ticks. Further longitudinal studies are required to establish seasonal variations in the prevalence and distribution of bovine ticks in different AEZs of Pakistan.
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