Nested species distribution models of Chlamydiales in tick host Ixodes ricinus in Switzerland
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
The tick Ixodes ricinus is the vector of various pathogens, including Chlamydiales bacteria, potentially causing respiratory infections. In this study, we modelled the spatial distribution of I. ricinus and associated Chlamydiales over Switzerland from 2009 to 2019. We used a total of 2293 ticks and 186 Chlamydiales occurrences provided by a Swiss Army field campaign, a collaborative smartphone application and a prospective campaign. For each tick location, we retrieved from Swiss federal
... ts the environmental factors reflecting the topography, climate and land cover. We then used the Maxent modelling technique to estimate the suitability for I. ricinus and to subsequently build the nested niche of Chlamydiales bacteria. Results indicate that I. ricinus high habitat suitability is determined by higher temperature and vegetation index (NDVI) values, lower temperature during driest months and a higher percentage of artificial and forests areas. The performance of the model was increased when extracting the environmental variables for a 100 m-radius buffer around the sampling points and when considering the climatic conditions of the two years previous to sampling date. For Chlamydiales bacteria, the suitability was favoured by lower percentage of artificial surfaces, driest conditions, high precipitation during coldest months and short distances to wetlands. From 2009 to 2018, we observed an extension of tick and Chlamydiales suitable areas, associated with a shift towards higher altitude. The importance to consider spatio-temporal variations of the environmental conditions for obtaining better prediction was also demonstrated. Importance Ixodes ricinus is the vector of pathogens, including the agent of Lyme disease, the tick borne encephalitis virus and the less known Chlamydiales bacteria at the origin of some respiratory infections. In this study, we identified the environmental factors influencing the presence of I. ricinus and Chlamydiales in Switzerland and generated maps of their distribution from 2009 to 2018. We found an important expansion of suitable areas for both the tick and the bacteria during the last decade. Results provided also the environmental factors that determine the presence of Chlamydiales within ticks. Distribution maps as generated here are expected to bring valuable informations for decision-makers to control tick-borne diseases in Switzerland and establish prevention campaigns. The methodological framework presented could be used to predict the distribution and spread of other host-pathogen couples, to identify environmental factors driving their distribution and to develop control or prevention strategies accordingly.