Amebiasis pp 9-25 | Cite as

The Continuously Expanding Universe of Entamoeba

  • C. Graham Clark
  • C. Rune Stensvold


In 1919, Clifford Dobell concluded that all the descriptions of Entamoeba in humans could be ascribed to three species: Entamoeba histolytica, Entamoeba coli, and Entamoeba gingivalis. At this time, morphology and host were the primary bases for naming species. We now know that both are unreliable, because host ranges can be broad and identical morphology can hide substantial genetic differences. Since Dobell, the number of accepted Entamoeba species in humans has continuously increased, with the most recent being identified in 2012. The application of molecular tools, especially DNA sequencing, has greatly increased our understanding of variation within the genus Entamoeba, but initial reliance on cultures gave us only a limited insight. For the past few years DNA extracted directly from feces from a wide range of hosts has been used to explore previously hidden Entamoeba diversity. Recent data include discovery of a uninucleate-cyst clade in nonhuman primates that is related to Entamoeba bovis and demonstration of substantial diversity within E. coli. Host ranges for some species are also expanding, with E. coli being found in rodents and an E. muris-like organism in primates. These results suggest that our picture of Entamoeba diversity is still incomplete and that further sampling is certain to uncover novel lineages.


Nonhuman Primate Host Specificity Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Massive Parallel Sequencing Mature Cyst 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pathogen Molecular Biology, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical DiseasesLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology and Infection ControlStatens Serum InstitutCopenhagenDenmark

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