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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 17-25

Blastocystis: Taxonomy, biology and virulence

Department of Microbiology, JIPMER, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
S S Jeremiah
Department of Microbiology, JIPMER, Puducherry - 605 006
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2229-5070.113894

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The unicellular protist Blastocystis has long been an unsolved puzzle for taxonomists, microbiologists and clinicians. Over the years, the organism has been bounced on and off the different branches of the tree of life due the possession of unique phenotypic characters intermediary to different organisms. The organism is polymorphic with only few of forms such as vacuolar, granular, amoeboid, and the cyst form being commonly known. However it could exist in other forms much more frequently than the widely known forms which could be missed by the unaware observer. Certain older concepts in the life cycle of Blastocystis although has been proven wrong are still being followed in various textbooks and other trustworthy internet sources. The causal role of Blastocystis in human disease has long been a subject of controversy. It is widely believed that certain subtypes of the organism are virulent. But this is not so as other factors are also involved in the clinical outcome of the infection. In these contexts, this review intends to shed light on the past misconceptions and the recent findings on the taxonomy, biology and the virulence of this organism.

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