Population genetic analysis of Enterocytozoon bieneusi in humans

Wei Li, Vitaliano Cama, Yaoyu Feng, Robert H. Gilman, Caryn Bern, Xichen Zhang, Lihua Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Genotyping based on sequence analysis of the ribosomal internal transcribed spacer has revealed significant genetic diversity in Enterocytozoon bieneusi. Thus far, the population genetics of E. bieneusi and its significance in the epidemiology of microsporidiosis have not been examined. In this study, a multilocus sequence typing of E. bieneusi in AIDS patients in Lima, Peru was conducted, using 72 specimens previously genotyped as A, D, IV, EbpC, WL11, Peru7, Peru8, Peru10 and Peru11 at the internal transcribed spacer locus. Altogether, 39 multilocus genotypes were identified among the 72 specimens. The observation of strong intragenic linkage disequilibria and limited genetic recombination among markers were indicative of an overall clonal population structure of E. bieneusi. Measures of pair-wise intergenic linkage disequilibria and a standardised index of association (IAS) based on allelic profile data further supported this conclusion. Both sequence-based and allelic profile-based phylogenetic analyses showed the presence of two genetically isolated groups in the study population, one (group 1) containing isolates of the anthroponotic internal transcribed spacer genotype A, and the other (group 2) containing isolates of multiple internal transcribed spacer genotypes (mainly genotypes D and IV) with zoonotic potential. The measurement of linkage disequilibria and recombination indicated group 2 had a clonal population structure, whereas group 1 had an epidemic population structure. The formation of the two sub-populations was confirmed by STRUCTURE and Wright's fixation index (F ST) analyses. The data highlight the power of MLST in understanding the epidemiology of E. bieneusi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-293
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012


  • Enterocytozoon bieneusi
  • Gene diversity
  • Linkage disequilibrium
  • Multilocus sequence typing
  • Population genetics
  • Population structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

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