I’m still on a high after the 3rd Int’l Blastocystis Conference! The Scientific Committee is in the process of putting together a TrendsTalk paper for Trends in Parasitology to provide a brief summary of the different topics presented at the conference, including some important updates.
I personally think
research has come a long way since I entered the field back in 2004, but I would like to call for more
cross-disciplinary approaches to studying the parasite.
particular, we need to stimulate a research interest in bioinformaticians,
vets, food microbiologists, and gastroenterologists.
bioinformatics people should help us analyze NGS data (shotgun, metabarcoding)
and provide some robust and guidelines for cut-offs for e.g. positivity and negativity in NGS data.
be interested in studying the differences in colonization across
different animal populations and find out what drives colonization and the impact
is has on the host and host gut microbiota. Studying the relationships of these
microbes in animals can help us understand these relationships in humans. Vets should help us find out why is so common in ruminants and so rare in carnivores.
To this end, food
microbiologists should take an interest to study associations and interactions
between , the gut microbiota and the host. Including metabolomics. Diet
as a driver of colonization should be investigated.
gastroenterologists should take an interest in to identify its positive
or negative association to various GI diseases (IBS, IBD, microscopic colitis,
coeliac disease, diverticulosis, colon cancer, etc, etc.)
We should take advantage of the fact that is one of the few intestinal parasites that can easily be cultured, which means that cells can be used for and experiments. Protocols should be developed for encystment, and cyst production on a larger scale should be enabled, since cysts can be used for oral administration.
The current shift in paradigm that reflects the recognition of as marker of intestinal eubiosis could be supported and expanded by increasing the involvement of these types of professions.
Blastocystis hominis parasite under microscope at 40X.
The taxonomic classification of Blastocystis hominis is mired in controversy. It has been previously considered as yeasts, fungi, or ameboid, flagellated, or sporozoan protozoa. Recently, however, based on molecular studies, especially dealing with the sequence information on the complete SSUrRNA gene, B. hominis has been placed within an informal group, the stramenopiles (Silberman et al. 1996). Stramenopiles are defined, based on molecular phylogenies, as a heterogeneous evolutionary assemblage of unicellular and multicellular protists including brown algae, diatoms, chrysophytes, water molds, slime nets, etc. (Patterson, 1994). CavalierSmith (1998) considers stramenopiles to be identical to his infrakingdom Heterokonta under the kingdom Chromista. Therefore, according to CavalierSmith, B. hominis is a heterokontid chromista.Knowledge of the life cycle and transmission is still under investigation, therefore this is a proposed life cycle for B. hominis. The classic form found in human stools is the cyst, which varies tremendously in size from 6 to 40 µm The Number 1. The thickwalled cyst present in the stools The Number 1 is believed to be responsible for external transmission, possibly by the fecaloral route through ingestion of contaminated water or food The Number 2. The cysts infect epithelial cells of the digestive tract and multiply asexually (The Number 3, The Number 4 ). Vacuolar forms of the parasite give origin to multi vacuolar The Number 5a and ameboid forms The Number 5b. The multivacuolar develops into a precyst The Number 6a that gives origin to a thinwalled cyst The Number 7a, thought to be responsible for autoinfection. The ameboid form gives origin to a precyst The Number 6b, which develops into thickwalled cyst by schizogony The Number 7b. The thickwalled cyst is excreted in feces Whether Blastocystis hominis can cause symptomatic infection in humans is a point of active debate. This is because of the common occurrence of the organism in both asymptomatic and symptomatic persons. Those who believe symptoms could be related to infection with this parasite have described a spectrum of illness including watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, perianal pruritus, and excessive flatulence..
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