Candidatus Midichloria mitochondrii (M. mitochondrii) belongs to a novel clade of bacteria within the order Rickettsiales. Recent PCR-based screening studies indicate that it is present in a number of blood-sucking arthropods, as well as the blood of some vertebrates. Its medical and veterinary significance remains to be determined. Electron microscopic examinations of M. mitochondrii have thus far been conducted on two infected tick species. Remarkably, the bacterium was found in abundance within the mitochondria of the ovarian cells of each tick species. This makes it the only characterized bacterium able to invade the mitochondria of any multicellular organism. To examine whether mitochondrial invasion is a consistent characteristic of M. mitochondrii, we examined two tick species found in Eastern Australia. One of these species, Ixodes holocyclus, was infected with two M. mitochondrii strains; however, no bacteria were seen in the mitochondria. Comparative studies involving these strains may shed light on the unique phenomenon of mitochondrial invasion.
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