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J Parasitol. 1999 Feb;85(1):77-83.

An Eimeriid origin of isosporoid coccidia with Stieda bodies as shown by phylogenetic analysis of small subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequences.

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Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


Morphological and life cycle features of the tissue cyst-forming coccidia have been difficult to interpret in devising taxonomic classifications for the various genera. In this study, we amplified the full small subunit rRNA gene sequence of Isospora robini McQuistion and Holmes, 1988, and the partial sequence of Isospora gryphoni Olsen, Gissing, Barta, and Middleton, 1998 by PCR. Both of these species vary from Isospora species of mammals in having Stieda bodies on the sporocysts. The sequences were cloned and sequenced and were incorporated into an alignment with other Isospora species lacking Stieda bodies as well as with other coccidia. Maximum parsimony analysis of these sequences produced a single most parsimonious tree that placed I. robini and I. gryphoni in a clade containing various other eimeriid species. The Isospora species lacking Stieda bodies were in the sarcocystid clade. Similar results were found by maximum likelihood analysis. These findings indicate that the genus Isospora as defined by several authors is polyphyletic. Taxonomic changes to the genus Isospora would have to incorporate the 2 major clades found by molecular phylogenetic analysis. Isospora species with Stieda bodies should be classified in the family Eimeriidae, whereas those without Stieda bodies should remain in the family Sarcocystidae.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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