Prevalence and genetic diversity of bartonella species isolated from wild rodents in Japan


Here, we describe for the first time the prevalence and genetic properties of Bartonella organisms in wild rodents in Japan. We captured 685 wild rodents throughout Japan (in 12 prefectures) and successfully isolated Bartonella organisms from 176 of the 685 rodents (isolation rate, 25.7%). Those Bartonella isolates were all obtained from the rodents captured in suburban areas (rate, 51.8%), but no organism was isolated from the animals captured in city areas. Sequence analysis of rpoB and gltA revealed that the Bartonella isolates obtained were classified into eight genetic groups, comprising isolates closely related to B. grahamii (A-I group), B. tribocorum and B. elizabethae (B-J group), B. tribocorum and B. rattimassiliensis (C-K group), B. rattimassiliensis (D-L group), B. phoceensis (F-N group), B. taylorii (G-O group), and probably two additional novel Bartonella species groups (E-M and H-P). B. grahamii, which is one of the potential causative agents of human neuroretinitis, was found to be predominant in Japanese rodents. In terms of the relationships between these Bartonella genetic groups and their rodent species, (i) the A-I, E-M, and H-P groups appear to be associated with Apodemus speciosus and Apodemus argenteus; (ii) the C-K, D-L, and F-N groups are likely implicated in Rattus rattus; (iii) the B-J group seems to be involved in Apodemus mice and R. rattus; and (iv) the G-O group is probably associated with A. speciosus and Clethrionomys voles. Furthermore, dual infections with two different genetic groups of bartonellae were found in A. speciosus and R. rattus. These findings suggest that the rodent in Japan might serve as a reservoir of zoonotic Bartonella infection.

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