Opportunistic nature of the mammalian microsporidia: experimental transmission of Trachipleistophora extenrec (Fungi: Microsporidia) between mammalian and insect hosts

Parasitol Res. 2011 Jun;108(6):1565-73. doi: 10.1007/s00436-010-2213-3. Epub 2010 Dec 29.


Spores of Trachipleistophora extenrec, originally isolated from the muscles of the Madagascan insectivore Hemicentetes semispinosus and maintained by serial passage in severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice, were fed to larvae of the Egyptian cotton leafworm Spodoptera littoralis. Extensive infection of larval tissues ensued and caused larval and pupal mortality. The development of T. extenrec in the insect host, studied both by light and electron microscopy, followed generally the same life cycle as in the mammalian host. However, some differences in the fine structure of the parasite grown in both types of hosts were found. Spores isolated from the insect host caused infection of SCID mice when injected intramuscularly. Our results suggest that T. extenrec may be originally an insect microsporidian. This likelihood is corroborated by its structural similarity and phylogenetic relationship to two other microsporidia having insects either as unique hosts (Vavraia culicis) or being able to infect both mammalian and insect host (Trachipleistophora hominis).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eulipotyphla / microbiology
  • Larva / microbiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microsporidia / physiology*
  • Microsporidia / ultrastructure
  • Microsporidiosis / microbiology*
  • Spodoptera / microbiology*