Rickettsiae are widely known to be human bacterial pathogens transmitted by blood-sucking ectoparasites, such as ticks, fleas, and lice. However, most rickettsial species are nonpathogenic endosymbionts with various groups of organisms, such as arthropods, protists, and other eukaryotes. While attention has been given to rickettsial endosymbionts of insects, rickettsial endosymbionts of ticks have been less well studied. Tick hosts are found across the phylogeny of Rickettsiae; hence, the tick was the most probable ancestral host of Rickettsiae associated with arthropods. Here, we focus on rickettsial endosymbionts of ticks, describing their role in association with ticks and comparing them to tick-borne vertebrate pathogens.
Part of the book: Ticks and Tick-Borne Pathogens