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Genetic diversity of Toxoplasma gondii in animals and humans

By L. David Sibley, Asis Khan, James W. Ajioka, Benjamin M. Rosenthal

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Toxoplasma gondii is one of the most widespread parasites of domestic, wild, and companion animals, and it also commonly infects humans. Toxoplasma gondii has a complex life cycle. Sexual development occurs only in the cat gut, while asexual replication occurs in many vertebrate hosts. These features combine to create an unusual population structure. The vast majority of strains in North America and Europe fall into three recently derived, clonal lineages known as types I, II and III. Recent studies have revealed that South American strains are more genetically diverse and comprise distinct genotypes. These differences have been shaped by infrequent sexual recombination, population sweeps and biogeography. The majority of human infections that have been studied in North America and Europe are caused by type II strains, which are also common in agricultural animals from these regions. In contrast, several diverse genotypes of T. gondii are associated with severe infections in humans in South America. Defining the population structure of T. gondii from new regions has important implications for transmission, immunogenicity and pathogenesis.


Katie Carroll

Date 2009
Publication Title Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
Volume 364
Pages 2749-2761
DOI doi:10.1098/rstb.2009.0087
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Arthropods
  2. Birds
  3. Cats
  4. Clones
  5. Dogs
  6. Genetics
  7. Health
  8. Horses
  9. Mammals
  10. pathogens
  11. Reptiles
  12. Rodents
  13. toxoplasmosis