Genetic polymorphism in Cryptosporidium species: an update

Vet Parasitol. 2009 Nov 12;165(3-4):187-99. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2009.07.003. Epub 2009 Jul 9.


Cryptosporidia, widely distributed protozoan parasites of vertebrates, have attracted increasing interest due to several serious waterborne outbreaks, the life-threatening nature of infection in immunocompromised patients, and the realization of economic losses caused by these pathogens in livestock. Genetic polymorphism within Cryptosporidium species is being detected at a continuously growing rate, owing to the widespread use of modern molecular techniques. The aim of this paper is to review the current status of taxonomy, genotyping and molecular phylogeny of Cryptosporidium species. To this date, 20 Cryptosporidium species have been recognized. Two named species of Cryptosporidium have been found in fish, 1 in amphibians, 2 in reptiles, 3 in birds, and 12 in mammals. Nearly 61 Cryptosporidium genotypes with uncertain species status have been found based on SSUrRNA sequences. The gp-60 gene showed a high degree of sequence polymorphism among isolates of Cryptosporidium species and several subtype groups and subgenotypes have been identified, of which the Cryptosporidium parvum IIa and IId subtype groups were found to be zoonotic. This review describes considerable progress in the identification, genetic characterization, and strain differentiation of Cryptosporidium over the last 20 years. All the valid species, genotypes and zoonotic subtypes of Cryptosporidium reported in the international literature are included in this paper with respect to the taxonomy, epidemiology, transmission and morphologic-genetic information for each species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cryptosporidiosis / parasitology
  • Cryptosporidium / classification
  • Cryptosporidium / genetics*
  • Genes, Protozoan / genetics
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genotype
  • Parasitic Diseases, Animal / parasitology
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics*