Population genetics provides evidence for recombination in Giardia

Curr Biol. 2007 Nov 20;17(22):1984-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.10.020. Epub 2007 Nov 1.


Giardia lamblia (syn. Giardia intestinalis, Giardia duodenalis) is an enteric protozoan parasite with two nuclei, and it might be one of the earliest branching eukaryotes. However, the discovery of at least rudimentary forms of certain features, such as Golgi and mitochondria, has refuted the proposal that its emergence from the eukaryotic lineage predated the development of certain eukaryotic features. The recent recognition of many of the genes known to be required for meiosis in the genome has also cast doubt on the idea that Giardia is primitively asexual, but so far there has been no direct evidence of sexual reproduction in Giardia, and population data have suggested clonal reproduction. We did a multilocus sequence evaluation of the genotype A2 reference strain, JH, and five genotype A2 isolates from a highly endemic area in Peru. Loci from different chromosomes yielded significantly different phylogenetic trees, indicating that they do not share the same evolutionary history; within individual loci, tests for recombination yielded significant statistical support for meiotic recombination. These observations provide genetic data supportive of sexual reproduction in Giardia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genes, Protozoan
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Giardia lamblia / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Reproduction / genetics