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"Borrelia burgdorferi" the causative agent of Lyme disease (borreliosis) magnified 400 times
Borrelia burgdorferi the causative agent of Lyme disease (borreliosis) magnified 400 times
Scientific classification e
Domain: Bacteria
Phylum: Spirochaetes
Order: Spirochaetales
Family: Spirochaetaceae
Genus: Borrelia
Swellengrebel 1907

Borrelia is a genus of bacteria of the spirochete phylum.[1] It causes borreliosis, a zoonotic, vector-borne disease transmitted primarily by ticks and by lice, depending on the species.[2] The genus is named after the French biologist Amédée Borrel (1867–1936). There are 52 known species of Borrelia. 21 are members of the Lyme disease group, 29 belong to the relapsing fever group, and two are members of a third group.[3]


The currently accepted taxonomy is based on the List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature (LPSN) [4] and National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)[5] and the phylogeny is based on 16S rRNA-based LTP release 111 by 'The All-Species Living Tree' Project.[6]

?B. lonestariBarbour et al. 1996

?B. microti

B. turcica Güner et al. 2004

B. coriaceae Johnson et al. 1987

B. miyamotoi Fukunaga et al. 1995

S. burgdorferi species-group

?Candidatus B. texasensis Lin et al. 2005

?B. andersoniiMarconi et al. 1995

?B. bavariensisMargos et al. 2009

?B. bissettiiPostic et al. 1998

?B. californiensisPostic et al. 2007

?B. kurtenbachiiMargos et al. 2010

?B. spielmanii Richter et al. 2006

B. tanukii Fukunaga et al. 1997

B. afzelii Canica et al. 1994

B. turdi Fukunaga et al. 1997

B. valaisiana Wang et al. 1997

B. americana Rudenko et al. 2010

B. carolinensis Rudenko et al. 2011

B. burgdorferi (Lyme disease spirochete)

B. garinii Baranton et al. 1992

B. lusitaniae Le Fleche et al. 1997

B. japonica Kawabata et al. 1994

B. sinica Masuzawa et al. 2001

♦ Type strain lost or not available
♠ Strains found at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) but not listed in the List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature (LSPN)
♥ Strains not lodged at National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) or listed in the List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature (LPSN)

Lyme disease[edit]

Of the 52 known species of Borrelia, 12[citation needed] are known to cause Lyme disease or borreliosis and are transmitted by ticks. The major Borrelia species causing Lyme disease are Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia afzelii, and Borrelia garinii.

Direct tests include culture of Borrelia from skin, blood, or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and detection of genetic material by polymerase chain reaction in skin, blood, or synovial fluid. Two-tiered serological testing is performed for differential diagnosis of Borrelia infection. The first-tier tests detect specific antibodies (IgM and IgG together or separately) and include enzyme immunoassays (e.g. ELISAs) and immunofluorescent assays. Positive results for first-tier tests are confirmed using second-tier testing. The second-tier consists of standardized immunoblotting, either by using Western blots or blots striped with diagnostically important purified antigens. Positive results for second-tier tests are confirmatory for the presence of Borrelia infection.[7]

Relapsing fever[edit]

Relapsing fever borreliosis often occurs with severe bacteremia.[8] B. recurrentis is transmitted by the human body louse; no other animal reservoir of B. recurrentis is known. Lice that feed on infected humans acquire the Borrelia organisms that then multiply in the gut of the louse. When an infected louse feeds on an uninfected human, the organism gains access when the victim crushes the louse or scratches the area where the louse is feeding. B. recurrentis infects the person via mucous membranes and then invades the bloodstream.

Other tick-borne relapsing infections are acquired from other species, such as B. hermsii, B. parkeri, or B. miyamotoi,[9] which can be spread from rodents, and serve as a reservoir for the infection, via a tick vector. B. hermsii and B. recurrentis cause very similar diseases, although the disease associated with B. hermsii has more relapses and is responsible for more fatalities, while the disease caused by B. recurrentis has longer febrile and afebrile intervals and a longer incubation period.


  1. ^ J.P. Euzéby. "Borrelia". List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature (LPSN) [1]. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  2. ^ Samuels DS; Radolf, JD, eds. (2010). Borrelia: Molecular Biology, Host Interaction and Pathogenesis. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-58-5.
  3. ^ Cutler SJ, Ruzic-Sabljic E, Potkonjak A (2016). "Emerging borreliae - Expanding beyond Lyme borreliosis". Molecular and Cellular Probes. 31: 22–27. doi:10.1016/j.mcp.2016.08.003. PMID 27523487.
  4. ^ J.P. Euzéby. "Borrelia". List of Prokaryotic names with Standing in Nomenclature (LPSN). Archived from the original on 2011-06-13. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  5. ^ Sayers; et al. "Borrelia". National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) taxonomy database. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  6. ^ 'The All-Species Living Tree' Project."16S rRNA-based LTP release 111 (full tree)" (PDF). Silva Comprehensive Ribosomal RNA Database. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  7. ^ Johnson, B.J.; Robbins, K.E.; Bailey, R.E.; Cao, B.L.; Sviat, S.L.; Craven, R.B.; Mayer, L.W. & Dennis, D.T. (1996). "Serodiagnosis of Lyme disease: accuracy of a two-step approach using a flagella-based ELISA and immunoblotting". Journal of Infectious Diseases. 174 (2): 346–53. doi:10.1093/infdis/174.2.346. PMID 8699065.
  8. ^ Guo, B.P.; Teneberg, S; Münch, R; Terunuma, D; Hatano, K; Matsuoka, K; Angström, J; Borén, T; Bergström, S (2009). "Relapsing fever Borrelia binds to neolacto glycans and mediates rosetting of human erythrocytes". PNAS. 106 (46): 19280–19285. Bibcode:2009PNAS..10619280G. doi:10.1073/pnas.0905470106. PMC 2771742. PMID 19884498.
  9. ^ McNeil, Donald (19 September 2011). "New Tick-Borne Disease Is Discovered". The New York Times. pp. D6. Retrieved 20 September 2011.

Further reading[edit]

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