The development and integration of DNA-based methods in research and clinical microbiology laboratories have enabled standardised and comprehensive detection and differentiation of the microbes colonising our guts. For instance, the single-celled parasites Blastocystis and Dientamoeba appear to be much more common than previously thought, especially so in healthy individuals. While increasing evidence appears to suggest limited pathogenicity of these parasites, next-generation-sequencing-based studies have helped us to appreciate links between parasite colonisation and certain host phenotypical characteristics and gut microbial profiles. The fundamental question remains as to whether such parasites are merely indicators or active manipulators of gut microbiota structure and function. In this article, we collate existing evidence that these parasites are, at minimum, indicators of intestinal microbiota structure.
Keywords: ecology; gut; metagenomics; microbiology; microbiome; public health.
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