Phylogenetic position of Rickettsia tsutsugamushi and the relationship among its antigenic variants by analyses of 16S rRNA gene sequences


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Abstract The 16S rRNA gene sequences of Rickettsia tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia sibirica were determined by PCR and DNA sequencing. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that R. sibirica is positioned in a cluster of the genus Rickettsia with a similarity value of 98.1–99.6%, whereas R. tsutsugamushi is located apart from the cluster with a similarity value of 90.2–90.6%. This evidence suggests that R. tsutsugamushi should be excluded taxonomically from the genus Rickettsia. The phylogenetic classification of six antigenic variants in R. tsutsugamushi moderately reflected their antigenic relationship known in closely and distantly related strains.