2020 Feb 14. doi: 10.1007/s00436-020-06622-6. [Epub ahead of print]

Detection of novel piroplasmid species and Babesia microti and Theileria orientalis genotypes in hard ticks from Tengchong County, Southwest China.


To reveal the genetic diversity of Babesia microti and Theileria orientalis in Southwest China, we conducted a molecular survey of piroplasms in hard ticks in a China-Myanmar border county. Host infesting and questing ticks were collected from Tengchong County in 2013 and 2014. Piroplasm infection in ticks was detected by PCR, and then, phylogenetic analysis was conducted to study the genetic diversity of the pathogens identified in ticks.

All in all, six piroplasm species comprising of the following have been identified after screening goat and cattle-attached ticks:

  • B. microti
  • B. orientalis
  • a novel Babesia species designated Babesia sp. Tengchong, China
  • T. orientalis
  • T. luwenshuni
  • an undescribed piroplasmid species referred to as Piroplasmid sp. Tengchong, China
  • B. bigemina has been identified by screening questing ticks

Phylogenetic analysis based on the 18S rRNA and partial β-tubulin gene revealed two novel potentially zoonotic genotypes designated B. microti Tengchong-Type A and B.

The T. orientalis genotypes identified in the present study represent the seven known genotypes 1-5, 7, and N3 as revealed by phylogenetic analysis of 18S rRNA and MPSP genes. Importantly, an additional genotype designated N4 has also been identified in this study, which brings the number of recognized T. orientalis genotypes to a total of twelve.

Thus, besides the two novel species, Babesia sp. Tengchong, China, closely related to Babesia species isolated from yak and Piroplasmid sp. Tengchong, China, our study demonstrates that additional novel B. microti and T. orientalis genotypes exist in Southwest China.



Babesia Microti is pathogenic in humans.

Babesia orientalis is pathogenic in water buffalo.

Theileria orientalis is pathogenic in cattle.

Theileria luwenshuni is pathogenic in sheep and goats.

Babesia bigemina is pathogenic in cattle.

They also discovered a NEW Theileria orientalis genotype  (N4).

The study identified TWO NEW Babesia microti genotypes (B. micro Tengchong- Type A & B) which may be pathogenic to humans.