Phylogeographic structure of the white-footed mouse and the deer mouse, two lyme disease reservoir hosts in Québec

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Modification of a species range is one of many consequences of climate change and is driving the emergence of Lyme disease in eastern Canada. The primary reservoir host of the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, is the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus), whose range is rapidly shifting north into southern Québec. The deer mouse, P. maniculatus, is occurring over most Québec province and is a less competent host for B. burgdorferi. Here, we compared the phylogeographic structure of both Peromyscus species in Québec. Using a combination of multiple mitochondrial DNA markers and phylogeographic methods, we detected an ongoing and rapid expansion of P. leucopus, while P. maniculatus appears more stable. Haplotype and populations networks indicated that populations of P. maniculatus exhibit more genetic structure than P. leucopus across the study area. Furthermore, significant and consistent genetic divergences between populations of the two species on both sides of the St. Lawrence River suggest that distinct lineages of P. leucopus and P. maniculatus with different ancestral origins colonized Southern Québec following the Last Glacial Maximum. The phylogeographic structure of pathogens is expected to mirror the structure observed in their reservoir hosts. As different strains of Borrelia burgdorferi may be associated with different levels of pathogenicity and immune responses of their hosts, our results are helpful at better understanding the pattern of spread of Lyme disease in a zone of emergence, and associated risk for human populations.




Fiset, J., Tessier, N., Millien, V., & Lapointe, F. J. (2015). Phylogeographic structure of the white-footed mouse and the deer mouse, two lyme disease reservoir hosts in Québec. PLoS ONE, 10(12).

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