Ernieenor Faraliana Che Lah, Salmah Yaakop, Mariana Ahamad and Shukor Md Nor (2015). Molecular identification of blood meal sources of ticks (Acari, Ixodidae) using cytochrome b gene as a genetic marker. ZooKeys 478: 27–43
Blood meal analysis (BMA) from ticks allows for the identification of natural hosts of ticks (Acari: Ixodidae). The aim of this study is to identify the blood meal sources of field collected on-host ticks using PCR analysis. DNA of four genera of ticks was isolated and their cytochrome b (Cyt b) gene was amplified to identify host blood meals. A phylogenetic tree was constructed based on data of Cyt b sequences using Neighbor Joining (NJ) and Maximum Parsimony (MP) analysis using MEGA 5.05 for the clustering of hosts of tick species. Twenty out of 27 samples showed maximum similarity (99%) with GenBank sequences through a Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) while 7 samples only showed a similarity range of between 91–98%. The phylogenetic trees showed that the blood meal samples were derived from small rodents (Leopoldamys sabanus, Rattus tiomanicus and Sundamys muelleri), shrews (Tupaia glis) and mammals (Tapirus indicus and Prionailurus bengalensis), supported by 82–88% bootstrap values. In this study, Cyt b gene as a molecular target produced reliable results and was very significant for the effective identification of ticks’ blood meal. The assay can be used as a tool for identifying unknown blood meals of field collected on-host ticks.