Genetic diversity within Cryptosporidium parvum and related Cryptosporidium species

Lihua Xiao, Una M. Morgan, Josef Limor, Ananias Escalante, Michael Arrowood, William Shulaw, R. C.A. Thompson, Ronald Fayer, Altaf A. Lal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

514 Scopus citations


To assess the genetic diversity in Cryptosporidium parvum, we have sequenced the small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene of seven Cryptosporidium spp., various isolates of C. parvum from eight hosts, and a Cryptosporidium isolate from a desert monitor. Phylogenetic analysis of the SSU rRNA sequences confirmed the multispecies nature of the genus Cryptosporidium, with at least four distinct species (C. parvum, C. baileyi, C. muris, and C. serpentis). Other species previously defined by biologic characteristics, including C. wrairi, C. meleagridis, and C. felis, and the desert monitor isolate, clustered together or within C. parvum. Extensive genetic diversities were present among C. parvum isolates from humans, calves, pigs, dogs, mice, ferrets, marsupials, and a monkey. In general, specific genotypes were associated with specific host species. A PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism technique previously developed by us could differentiate most Cryptosporidium spp. and C. parvum genotypes, but sequence analysis of the PCR product was needed to differentiate C. wrairi and C. meleagridis from some of the C. parvum genotypes. These results indicate a need for revision in the taxonomy and assessment of the zoonotic potential of some animal C. parvum isolates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3386-3391
Number of pages6
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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