Genome-wide analysis of Borrelia turcica and ‘Candidatus Borrelia tachyglossi’ shows relapsing fever-like genomes with unique genomic links to Lyme disease Borrelia.

Gofton AW, et al. Infect Genet Evol. 2018.


Borrelia are tick-borne bacteria that in humans are the aetiological agents of Lyme disease and relapsing fever. Here we present the first genomes of B. turcica and B. tachyglossi, members of a recently described and rapidly expanding Borrelia clade associated with reptile (B. turcica) or echidna (B. tachyglossi) hosts, transmitted by hard ticks, and of unknown pathogenicity. Borrelia tachyglossi and B. turcica genomes are similar to those of relapsing fever Borrelia species, containing a linear ~ 900 kb chromosome, a single long (> 70 kb) linear plasmid, and numerous short (< 40 kb) linear and circular plasmids, as well as a suite of housekeeping and macronutrient biosynthesis genes which are not found in Lyme disease Borrelia. Additionally, both B. tachyglossi and B. turcica contain paralogous vsp and vlp proteins homologous to those used in the multiphasic antigen-switching system used by relapsing fever Borrelia to evade vertebrate immune responses, although their number was greatly reduced compared to human-infectious species. However, B. tachyglossi and B. turcica chromosomes also contain numerous genes orthologous to Lyme disease Borrelia-specific genes, demonstrating a unique evolutionary, and potentially phenotypic link between these groups. Borrelia tachyglossi and B. turcica genomes also have unique genetic features, including degraded and deleted tRNA modification genes, and an expanded range of macronutrient salvage and biosynthesis genes compared to relapsing fever and Lyme disease Borrelia. These genomes and genomic comparisons provide an insight into the biology and evolutionary origin of these Borrelia, and provide a valuable resource for future work.



We don’t hear much about the importance of reptiles but we should.  According to independent Canadian tick researcher, too much emphasis has been placed on the white footed mouse and not enough on reptiles, particularly in the West & South.   Scott has shown that there are established populations of deer ticks in Manitoba as well as in insular, hyper-endemic Corkscrew Island, yet both are devoid of white-footed mice. He points out that there are numerous reservoir hosts that must be considered including other mammals, birds, and reptiles.

For decades we’ve been told it’s the mice. Yet a real problem are reptiles like skinks and lizards:,

This current abstract brings up Echidna – or spiny ant-eaters, yet another potential vector/reservoir which are egg-laying mammals.

Digging a bit further, I discovered that varieties of uniquely Australian borrelia have been identified and are in fact related to Relapsing fever and Reptilian fever groups found in the paralysis tick, a common tick that bites people.  While the “powers that be” deny Lyme in Australia, this could be a way Australians are contracting a “Lyme-like” illness.  (Abstract found in link)

The research possibilities are endless, but one things’s for certain, Australians are getting sick and there’s a reason why.  To announce that Lyme doesn’t exist there is very short-sighted.  Whether it’s Lyme caused by Bb or a “Lyme-like” illness caused by another organism, WE NEED TO KNOW, because in the sidelines are thousands of very sick people who deserve answers.  A SYDNEY woman will launch a class action against NSW Health after autopsy results showed her husband had been riddled with a disease the Health Department says does not exist in Australia….The autopsy indicated he had bacteria from Lyme disease in his liver, heart, kidney and lungs.

Hmmmmm…. now how in the world did that happen?!!

Patients need answers that will directly affect their immediate health, not a bunch of climate data that is for all intents and purposes is worthless to patient health outcome.