Microsporidia, as a group, cause a wide range of infections, though two species of microsporidia in particular, Enterocytozoon bieneusi and Encephalitozoon intestinalis, are associated with gastrointestinal disease in humans. To date, the mode of transmission and environmental occurrence of microsporidia have not been elucidated due to lack of sensitive and specific screening methods. The present study was undertaken with recently developed methods to screen several significant water sources. Water concentrates were subjected to community DNA extraction followed by microsporidium-specific PCR amplification, PCR sequencing, and database homology comparison. A total of 14 water concentrates were screened; 7 of these contained human-pathogenic microsporidia. The presence of Encephalitozoon intestinalis was confirmed in tertiary sewage effluent, surface water, and groundwater; the presence of Enterocytozoon bieneusi was confirmed in surface water; and the presence of Vittaforma corneae was confirmed in tertiary effluent. Thus, this study represents the first confirmation, to the species level, of human-pathogenic microsporidia in water, indicating that these human-pathogenic microsporidia may be waterborne pathogens.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology