Host specificity in the Giardia duodenalis species complex

Simone M. Cacciò, Marco Lalle, Staffan G. Svärd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Giardia duodenalis is a unicellular flagellated parasite that infects the gastrointestinal tract of a wide range of mammalian species, including humans. Investigations of protein and DNA polymorphisms revealed that G. duodenalis should be considered as a species complex, whose members, despite being morphologically indistinguishable, can be classified into eight groups, or Assemblages, separated by large genetic distances. Assemblages display various degree of host specificity, with Assemblages A and B occurring in humans and many other hosts, Assemblage C and D in canids, Assemblage E in hoofed animals, Assemblage F in cats, Assemblage G in rodents, and Assemblage H in pinnipeds. The factors determining host specificity are only partially understood, and clearly involve both the host and the parasite. Here, we review the results of in vitro and in vivo experiments, and clinical observations to highlight relevant biological and genetic differences between Assemblages, with a focus on human infection.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • Genomics
  • Giardia duodenalis
  • Host specificity
  • Host-parasite interactions
  • In vivo models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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