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Phylogenetic lineages and postglacial dispersal dynamics characterize the genetic structure of the tick, Ixodes ricinus, in Northwest Europe

By Knut H. Røed, Kjersti S. Kvie, Gunnar Hasle, Lucy Gilbert and Hans Petter Leinaas


Dispersal and gene flow are important mechanisms affecting the dynamics of vectors and their pathogens. Here, patterns of genetic diversity were analyzed in many North European populations of the tick, Ixodes ricinus. Population sites were selected within and between areas separated by geographical barriers in order to evaluate the importance of tick transportation by birds in producing genetic connectivity across open sea and mountain ranges. The phylogenetic analyses of the mitochondrial control region and the cytochrome b gene revealed two distinct clades with supported sub-clades, with three genetic lineages: GB and WNo associated with Great Britain and western Norway respectively, and Eu with a wider distribution across continental Europe in agreement with much lower efficiency of tick dispersal by birds than by large mammals. The results suggest different ancestry of I. ricinus colonizing Britain and the rest of northern Europe, possibly from different glacial refuges, while ticks from western Norway and continental Europe share a more recent common ancestry. Demographic history modeling suggests a period of strong increase in tick abundance coincident with progression of the European Neolithic culture, long after their post-glacial colonization of NW Europe

Publisher: 'Public Library of Science (PLoS)'
Year: 2016
DOI identifier: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167450
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Provided by: Enlighten

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