Blastocystis is a common parasite of the human large intestine but has an uncertain role in disease. In this review, we appraise the published evidence addressing this and its weaknesses. Genetic diversity studies have led to the identification of numerous subtypes (STs) within the genus Blastocystis and, recently, methods for studying variation within STs have been developed, with implications for our understanding of host specificity. The geographic distribution of STs is summarised and the impact this may have on investigations into the role of the organism in disease is discussed. Finally, we describe the organelle and nuclear genome characteristics and look to future developments in the field.
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