Molecular Characterization of a Novel Relapsing Fever Borrelia Species from the Desert Cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii) in New Mexico, USA
The Borrelia genus comprises vector-borne, spirochete bacteria infecting vertebrates worldwide. We characterized a novel relapsing fever Borrelia species from a desert cottontail (Syvilagus audubonii) from New Mexico, US, using an established multilocus sequence analysis approach. Phylogenetic analysis of the flagellin gene (flaB) and four other protein-coding loci (clpX, pepX, recG, rplB) grouped the novel Borrelia species with hard tick relapsing fever borreliae Borrelia lonestari, Borrelia theileri, and Borrelia miyamotoi. The identity of the vectors and other vertebrate hosts, geographic distribution, and zoonotic potential of this novel Borrelia species deserve further investigation.