Tickborne diseases, due to a diversity of bacterial pathogens, represent a significant and increasing public health threat throughout the northern hemisphere. A high-throughput 16S V1-V2 rDNA-based metagenomics assay was developed and evaluated using >13,000 residual samples from patients suspected of tickborne illness and >1000 controls. Taxonomic predictions for tickborne bacteria were exceptionally accurate, as independently validated by secondary testing. Overall, 881 specimens were positive for bacterial tickborne agents. Twelve tickborne bacterial species were detected, including two novel pathogens, representing a 100% increase in the number of tickborne bacteria identified compared to what was possible by initial PCR testing. In three blood specimens, two tickborne bacteria were simultaneously detected. Seven bacteria, not known to be tick-transmitted, were also confirmed unique to samples from persons suspected of tickborne illness. These results indicate 16S V1-V2 metagenomics can greatly simplify diagnosis and accelerate discovery of bacterial tickborne pathogens.
Journal of Clinical Microbiology
J Clin Microbiol 2020 Sep 2; JCM.00147-20