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      Molecular characterization of Blastocystis sp. in captive wildlife in Bangladesh National Zoo: Non-human primates with high prevalence and zoonotic significance

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          Blastocystis sp. is a protozoan parasite, commonly found in the gastrointestinal tracts of animals and humans globally. The parasitic species has wide genetic diversity. Currently the mammalian and avian isolates of the parasite are grouped into 17 well known subtypes (STs), of which ten (ST1-ST9, ST12) are reported in humans. To assess the genetic diversity of Blastocystis sp. in wildlife, a total of 200 fresh fecal samples were collected from 32 mammalian wildlife species in Bangladesh National Zoo. Blastocystis sp. was screened and subtyped by PCR amplification and sequencing of the small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA) gene. The minimum prevalence of Blastocystis sp. infection was 15.5% (31/200) in zoo animals. Eight out of 32 wildlife animal species (25.0%) were infected with Blastocystis sp. Among them, the occurrence of Blastocystis sp. was higher in non-human primates (NHPs) (31.8%) than that in herbivores (4.9%) and carnivores (0). Nucleotide sequence analysis of the SSU rRNA gene revealed seven different Blastocystis sp. subtypes, such as ST1, ST2, ST3, ST10, ST11, ST13 and ST14 in the wild animals. ST3 was the dominant subtype (41.9%, 13/31) being detected in NHPs. Of the 31 Blastocystis sp. isolates from the wild animals, 24 (77.4%) isolates belonged to the most common subtypes (ST1 to ST3) found in humans. This is the first molecular study of Blastocystis sp. in wild animals in Bangladesh. This study highlights the remarkable genetic diversity in Blastocystis sp. isolates from zoo animals and provides the first molecular evidence from spotted deer, gayal and grey langur. Due to circulation of large percentage of potentially zoonotic subtypes in the wild animals, there is a higher risk of zoonotic transmission of Blastocystis sp. in the zoo keepers and visitors.

          Graphical abstract


          • First report of Blastocystis sp. infection in wild animals in Bangladesh.

          • Minimum prevalence of Blastocystis sp. infection was 15.5% in wildlife.

          • ST3 was the dominant subtype in wildlife in Bangladesh.

          • Majority of the Blastocystis sp. isolates belonged to the most common human subtypes.

          • Non-human primates with high prevalence and zoonotic significance.

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          Most cited references 39

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          New insights on classification, identification, and clinical relevance of Blastocystis spp.

           Kevin S W Tan (2008)
          Blastocystis is an unusual enteric protozoan parasite of humans and many animals. It has a worldwide distribution and is often the most commonly isolated organism in parasitological surveys. The parasite has been described since the early 1900s, but only in the last decade or so have there been significant advances in our understanding of Blastocystis biology. However, the pleomorphic nature of the parasite and the lack of standardization in techniques have led to confusion and, in some cases, misinterpretation of data. This has hindered laboratory diagnosis and efforts to understand its mode of reproduction, life cycle, prevalence, and pathogenesis. Accumulating epidemiological, in vivo, and in vitro data strongly suggest that Blastocystis is a pathogen. Many genotypes exist in nature, and recent observations indicate that humans are, in reality, hosts to numerous zoonotic genotypes. Such genetic diversity has led to a suggestion that previously conflicting observations on the pathogenesis of Blastocystis are due to pathogenic and nonpathogenic genotypes. Recent epidemiological, animal infection, and in vitro host-Blastocystis interaction studies suggest that this may indeed be the case. This review focuses on such recent advances and also provides updates on laboratory and clinical aspects of Blastocystis spp.
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            Genetic diversity of blastocystis in livestock and zoo animals.

            Blastocystis is a common unicellular anaerobic eukaryote that inhabits the large intestine of many animals worldwide, including humans. The finding of Blastocystis in faeces in mammals and birds has led to proposals of zoonotic potential and that these hosts may be the source of many human infections. Blastocystis is, however, a genetically diverse complex of many distinct organisms (termed subtypes; STs), and sampling to date has been limited, both geographically and in the range of hosts studied. In order to expand our understanding of host specificity of Blastocystis STs, 557 samples were examined from various non-primate animal hosts and from a variety of different countries in Africa, Asia and Europe. STs were identified using 'barcoding' of the small subunit rRNA gene using DNA extracted either from culture or directly from faeces. The host and geographic range of several STs has thereby been greatly expanded and the evidence suggests that livestock is not a major contributor to human infection. Two new STs were detected among the barcode sequences obtained; for these, and for three others where the data were incomplete, the corresponding genes were fully sequenced and phylogenetic analysis was undertaken. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
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              DNA barcoding of blastocystis.

              We have developed a simple method for subtyping the intestinal protistan parasite Blastocystis using an approach equivalent to DNA barcoding in animals. Amplification of a 600 bp region of the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene followed by single primer sequencing of the PCR product provides enough data to assign isolates to specific subtypes unambiguously. We believe that this approach will prove useful in future epidemiological studies.

                Author and article information

                Int J Parasitol Parasites Wildl
                Int J Parasitol Parasites Wildl
                International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife
                19 November 2019
                December 2019
                19 November 2019
                : 10
                : 314-320
                [a ]Academy of Chinese Medicine, Henan University of Chinese Medicine, Zhengzhou, 450046, China
                [b ]Department of Medicine, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University, Gazipur, 1706, Bangladesh
                [c ]College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou, 450046, China
                [d ]Department of Microbiology and Public Health, Patuakhali Science and Technology University, Barishal, 8210, Bangladesh
                Author notes
                []Corresponding author. College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Henan Agricultural University, No. 15 University District, Zhengdong Newly-developed Area, Zhengzhou, 450046, China. zhanglx8999@
                [∗∗ ]Corresponding author. vet_robiul@
                © 2019 Henan University of Chinese Medicine

                This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (



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