Genetic analysis of Giardia from hoofed farm animals reveals artiodactyl-specific and potentially zoonotic genotypes

J Eukaryot Microbiol. Nov-Dec 1997;44(6):626-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1550-7408.1997.tb05970.x.


Thirty one Giardia isolates, established from six species of hoofed livestock by axenic culture or growth in suckling mice, were compared genetically by analysis of DNA amplified from loci encoding variant surface proteins or the enzyme glutamate dehydrogenase and by allozyme analysis. The isolates were heterogeneous, but all showed affinity with genetic Assemblage A--one of two major assemblages defined previously by analysis of Giardia from humans. Three distinct genotypes were evident. Ten isolates (eight axenic and two established in suckling mice) from an alpaca, pig, horse, cattle and sheep were indistinguishable from human-derived G. intestinalis belonging to a previously designated genetic group (Group I). This genotype seems to have broad host specificity, including a zoonotic potential for humans. Five isolates (two axenic and three established in suckling mice) from an alpaca, a horse and sheep had close affinity with human-derived Group I and Group II G. intestinalis genotypes. The other 16 isolates (comprising both axenic and suckling mouse-propagated cultures derived from cattle, sheep, alpaca, a goat and pigs in Australia and Europe) differed from all other Giardia with "duodenalis" morphology that have been examined by these methods and they segregated as a highly distinct sublineage (referred to herein as 'Novel livestock') within genetic Assemblage A. The predominance of 'Novel livestock' genotypes in the test panel and their apparent exclusive association with artiodactyl hosts indicates that they may be confined to this group of mammals. Assemblage B genotypes, which are prevalent in humans and some other animal species, were not detected.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Artiodactyla / parasitology*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Protozoan / analysis
  • Genes, Protozoan / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Giardia / enzymology
  • Giardia / genetics*
  • Giardiasis / parasitology
  • Giardiasis / veterinary*
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Zoonoses / parasitology


  • DNA, Protozoan
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase