Prevalence and genetic diversity of Blastocystis in family units living in the United States

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Scanlan, Pauline D.
Knight, Rob
Song, Se Jin
Ackermann, Gail
Cotter, Paul D.
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The human gut is host to a diversity of microorganisms including the single-celled microbial eukaryote Blastocystis. Although Blastocystis has a global distribution, there is dearth of information relating to its prevalence and diversity in many human populations. The mode of Blastocystis transmission to humans is also insufficiently characterised, however, it is speculated to vary between different populations. Here we investigated the incidence and genetic diversity of Blastocystis in a US population and also the possibility of Blastocystis human-human transmission between healthy individuals using family units (N = 50) living in Boulder, Colorado as our sample-set. Ten of the 139 (~ 7%) individuals in our dataset were positive for Blastocystis, nine of whom were adults and one individual belonging to the children/adolescents group. All positive cases were present in different family units. A number of different Blastocystis subtypes (species) were detected with no evidence of mixed infections. The prevalence of Blastocystis in this subset of the US population is comparatively low relative to other industrialised populations investigated to date; however, subtype diversity was largely consistent with that previously reported in studies of European populations. The distribution of Blastocystis within family units indicates that human-human transmission is unlikely to have occurred within families that participated in this study. It is not unexpected that given the world-wide variation in human living conditions and lifestyles between different populations, both the prevalence of Blastocystis and its mode of transmission to humans may vary considerably.
Blastocystis , Parasite , Microbial eukaryote , Microbial survey , Prevalence , Gut microbe , Microbial diversity , Human-human transmission
Scanlan, Pauline D.; Knight, Rob; Song, Se Jin; Ackermann, Gail; Cotter, Paul D. (2016) 'Prevalence and genetic diversity of Blastocystis in family units living in the United States'. Infection Genetics And Evolution, 45 :95-97.:10.1016/j.meegid.2016.08.018