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A short article about Entamoeba histolytica, an intestinal protozoan parasite of humans …
Biology Articles » Parasitology » The Entamoeba histolytica genome: something old, something new, something borrowed and sex too? » Sex too?
A fascinating recent discovery from mining the genome project is that E. histolytica possesses an essentially complete complement of the genes known to be required for meiosis . E. histolytica trophozoites reproduce by binary fission and, although the existence of genetic recombination has been proposed on at least one occasion , there have been no confirmed sightings of amebic sex. It remains unknown whether E. histolytica is capable of meiosis but these findings (and the presence of meiotic genes in Giardia) are consistent with the idea that meiosis must be an early component of eukaryotic evolution and that, if they are not conserved for sex, these genes must have a role in other parasite functions.
A genome has been called a Rosetta Stone, a blueprint, the combination to a safe, a roadmap and, perhaps most accurately, a list of parts. Whatever the metaphor, the completion of the E. histolytica genome is having the greatest impact on the amebiasis field since Diamond reported the successful axenic cultivation of E. histolytica trophozoites in 1961 [2,16]. It is already changing the way in which the E. histolytica research community does science, and is providing a powerful new resource for investigators who are interested in parasitic protozoa, eukaryotic evolution and microbial pathogenesis.
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