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SYMPOSIUM ON BLASTOCYSTIS
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 26-34

Blastocystis: Genetic diversity and molecular methods for diagnosis and epidemiology


Department of Microbiology and Infection Control, Statens Serum Institut, Artillerivej 5, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark

Correspondence Address:
Christen Rune Stensvold
Department of Microbiology and Infection Control, Laboratory of Parasitology, Statens Serum Institute, Artillerivej 5, DK-2300 Copenhagen S
Denmark
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DOI: 10.4103/2229-5070.113896

PMID: 23961438

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Blastocystis , an unusual anaerobic, single-celled stramenopile, is a remarkably successful intestinal parasite of a vast array of host species including humans. Fecal Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis by nucleic-acid based methods in particular has led to significant advances in Blastocystis diagnostics and research over the past few years enabling accurate identification of carriers and molecular characterization by high discriminatory power. Moreover, Blastocystis comprises a multitude of subtypes (STs) (arguably species) many of which have been identified only recently and molecular epidemiological studies have revealed a significant difference in the distribution of STs across host species and geographical regions. Having a cosmopolitan distribution, the parasite is a common laboratory finding in the stools of individuals with and without intestinal symptoms across the entire globe and while the parasite remains extremely difficult to eradicate and isolate in culture, appropriate molecular tools are now available to resolve important questions such as whether the clinical outcome of colonization is linked to ST and whether Blastocystis is transmitted zoonotically. This review summarizes some of the recent advances in the molecular diagnosis of Blastocystis and gives an introduction to Blastocystis STs, including a recommendation of subtyping methodology based on recent data and method comparisons. A few suggestions for future directions and research areas are given in the light of relevant technological advances and the availability of mitochondrial and nuclear genomes.


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