Giardia sp.: comparison of electrophoretic karyotypes

Exp Parasitol. 1990 Nov;71(4):470-82. doi: 10.1016/0014-4894(90)90073-l.


Species in the genus Giardia have been named on the basis of host specificity, cell dimensions, and median body morphology. Despite these criteria, the species taxonomy of Giardia is still in question. To investigate Giardia taxonomy on a molecular level, Giardia chromosomal DNA was analyzed by orthogonal-field-alternation gel electrophoresis (OFAGE) and transverse alternating field electrophoresis (TAFE). Chromosomal DNA of G. duodenalis isolates (human, muskrat, sheep, dog, beaver), G. muris (mouse), and G. ardeae (great blue heron) were subjected to OFAGE and TAFE analyses. Comparable DNA patterns were obtained by both electrophoretic methods, but OFAGE required 8 days while TAFE required only 3 days. DNA patterns among all G. duodenalis isolates, although quite similar to each other, were distinctly different from those of G. muris and G. ardeae; G. muris and G. ardeae DNA patterns were distinctly different from each other. A G. duodenalis (Portland 1) total DNA probe hybridized to the DNA of all G. duodenalis isolates on Southern blots, but not detectably to G. muris and G. ardeae DNA. Similarly, G. muris and G. ardeae total DNA probes only hybridized detectably to their respective DNA. One probe that appears to hybridize to the DNA of all G. duodenalis and to G. ardeae DNA rather than G. muris DNA has been developed. Another probe that hybridizes only to G. muris and G. ardeae DNA has been developed. These data suggest that the differentiation of Giardia isolated from host and environmental samples may eventually be accomplished by DNA probes. Additionally, these techniques perhaps combined with other criteria may lead to the establishment of a sound taxonomic scheme for this genus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds
  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Protozoan / analysis*
  • Electrophoresis, Agar Gel
  • Giardia / classification*
  • Giardia / genetics
  • Giardia / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Karyotyping
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization


  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Protozoan