Genetic diversity of Toxoplasma gondii in animals and humans

L. David Sibley, Asis Khan, James W. Ajioka, Benjamin M. Rosenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

119 Scopus citations

Abstract

Toxoplasma gondii is one of the most widespread parasites of domestic, wild, and companion animals, and it also commonly infects humans. Toxoplasma gondii has a complex life cycle. Sexual development occurs only in the cat gut, while asexual replication occurs in many vertebrate hosts. These features combine to create an unusual population structure. The vast majority of strains in North America and Europe fall into three recently derived, clonal lineages known as types I, II and III. Recent studies have revealed that South American strains are more genetically diverse and comprise distinct genotypes. These differences have been shaped by infrequent sexual recombination, population sweeps and biogeography. The majority of human infections that have been studied in North America and Europe are caused by type II strains, which are also common in agricultural animals from these regions. In contrast, several diverse genotypes of T gondii are associated with severe infections in humans in South America. Defining the population structure of T gondii from new regions has important implications for transmission, immunogenicity and pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2749-2761
Number of pages13
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume364
Issue number1530
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 27 2009

Keywords

  • Clonality
  • Pathogenesis
  • Population genetics
  • Recombination
  • Toxoplasmosis

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