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Published in J. Parasitol., 89(6), 2003, pp. 1256–1257.


An in vitro assay to evaluate the bacteriolytic activity of the complement pathway was applied to 2 strains of Borrelia bissettii, CO501 and DN127, and compared with that of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto B31. Sera from mule deer ( Odocoileus hemionus) and the Western Fence lizard ( Sceloporus occidentalis) were completely borreliacidal for B. burgdorferi and for both strains of B. bissettii. Serum from Bobwhite quail ( Colinus virginianus) was nonlytic for B. burgdorferi and partially lytic for B. bissettii strains, CO-501 and DN127. Serum from a New Zealand White rabbit ( Oryctolagus cuniculus) was partially lytic for all 3 strains of Borrelia, whereas serum from white-footed mice ( Peromyscus leucopus) were nonlytic for all 3 Borrelia strains. The spectrum of complement sensitivity of B. bissettii appears to be similar to that of European B. afzelii in that tested rodent serum is not lytic to these 2 genospecies. Interestingly, both B. bissettii and B. afzelii have been found to be closely associated with rodents. Complement sensitivity demonstrated in these experiments may suggest and possibly predict specific reservoir–host associations.

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