Population genetics of Cryptosporidium meleagridis in humans and birds: Evidence for cross-species transmission

Yuanfei Wang, Wenli Yang, Vitaliano Cama, Lin Wang, Lilia Cabrera, Ynes Ortega, Caryn Bern, Yaoyu Feng, Robert Gilman, Lihua Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Population genetic studies have been used to understand the transmission of pathogens in humans and animals, especially the role of zoonotic infections and evolution and dispersal of virulent subtypes. In this study, we analysed the genetic diversity and population structure of Cryptosporidium meleagridis, the only known Cryptosporidium species that infects both avian and mammalian hosts and is responsible for approximately 10% of human cryptosporidiosis in some areas. A total of 62 C. meleagridis specimens from children, AIDS patients, and birds in Lima, Peru were characterised by sequence analysis of the ssrRNA gene and five minisatellite, microsatellite and polymorphic markers in chromosome 6, including the 60. kDa glycoprotein (gp60), 47. kDa glycoprotein (CP47), a serine repeat antigen (MSC6-5), retinitis pigmentosa GTPase regulator (RPGR) and thrombospondin protein 8 (TSP8). The multilocus sequence analysis identified concurrent infections with Cryptosporidium hominis in four AIDS patients and three children. Unique subtypes of C. meleagridis ranged from eight at the gp60 locus (gene diversity -Hd. = 0.651), three at the RPGR (Hd. = 0.556), three at the MSC6-5 locus (Hd. = 0.242), two at TSP8 (Hd. = 0.198), to one at CP47 (monomorphic), much lower than that of C. hominis in the same area. Intragenic linkage disequilibrium was strong and complete at all gene loci. Intergenic linkage disequilibrium was highly significant (P<. 0.001) for all pairs of polymorphic loci. Two major groups of subtypes were seen, with most subtypes belonging to group 1. Within group 1, there was no clear population segregation, and two of the 14 multilocus subtypes of C. meleagridis were found in both AIDS patients and birds. We believe that these results provide the first evidence of a clonal population structure of C. meleagridis and the likely occurrence of cross-species transmission of C. meleagridis between birds and humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-521
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Cryptosporidium meleagridis
  • Multilocus sequence typing
  • Population genetics
  • Subtypes
  • Zoonosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Population genetics of Cryptosporidium meleagridis in humans and birds: Evidence for cross-species transmission'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this