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Eimeria tenella genome view
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     Lineage: Eukaryota; Alveolata; Apicomplexa; Conoidasida; Coccidia; Eucoccidiorida; Eimeriorina; Eimeriidae; Eimeria; Eimeria tenella

The Sanger Center, in collaboration with the Institute of Animal Health, Compton, UK, are sequencing the Eimeria tenella genome. Funds are provided by BBSRC. The sequencing strategy is whole shotgun sequence until 5x genome coverage has been achieved.

Eimeria tenella has a 60 MB genome, organized in 14 chromosomes that range in size from 1Mb to over 6Mb. The GC content is 53%. Two major ribosomal DNA clusters have been characterized and mapped respectively as tandem arrays to chromosome 10 (500 copies of a 730bp 5S unit) and chromosome 12 (140 copies of an 8 Kb 18S-5.8S-28S unit). Both clusters account for 2.5% of the genome.

Genetic linkage mapping of E. tenella determined 16 linkage groups which define 12 chromosomes and a further 57 unlinked groups (the latter not displayed here). This data was obtained from Shirley MW and Harvey DA, 2000 Genome Res. 10:1587-93.

A complementary effort is being carried out by the Genome Sequencing Center at the Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, to sequence E. tenella strain Houghton. Additionaly, a total of 13,190 ESTs have been generated from this apicomplexan parasite. Eimeria sp are obligate, intracellular protozoan parasites which belong to the phylum Apicomplexa and are closely related to Plasmodium (the causative agents of malaria) and the zoonotic parasites Toxoplasma and Cryptosporidium. E. tenella develops within epithelial cells that line the intestinal tract of domestic fowl and probably also infects most of the 30 billion chickens reared annually for meat worldwide. The clinical disease is called caecal coccidiosis.

In common with other apicomplexan parasites, E. tenella is characterized by an endogenous developmental life cycle that comprises sequential phases of asexual reproduction followed by a terminal phase of sexual reproduction in which gametes fuse to produce a transient diploid nucleus (a zygote) that gives rise to haploid sporozoites. Differently from other apicomplexans, E. tenella have a direct life cycle occurring in only a single host. Therefore this organism represents a model system to study the genetic loci implicated in the regulation of the parasite life cycle.

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Last modified: Sep 8 2008

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