On the biological and genetic diversity in Neospora caninum

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Diversity, 2010, 2 (3), pp. 411 - 438
Issue Date:
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Neospora caninum is a parasite regarded a major cause of foetal loss in cattle. A key requirement to an understanding of the epidemiology and pathogenicity of N. caninum is knowledge of the biological characteristics of the species and the genetic diversity within it. Due to the broad intermediate host range of the species, worldwide geographical distribution and its capacity for sexual reproduction, significant biological and genetic differences might be expected to exist. N. caninum has now been isolated from a variety of different host species including dogs and cattle. Although isolates of this parasite show only minor differences in ultrastructure, considerable differences have been reported in pathogenicity using mainly mouse models. At the DNA level, marked levels of polymorphism between isolates were detected in mini- and microsatellites found in the genome of N. caninum. Knowledge of what drives the biological differences that have been observed between the various isolates at the molecular level is crucial in aiding our understanding of the epidemiology of this parasite and, in turn, the development of efficacious strategies, such as live vaccines, for controlling its impact. The purpose of this review is to document and discuss for the first time, the nature of the diversity found within the species Neospora caninum. © 2010 by the authors; licensee Molecular Diversity Preservation International, Basel, Switzerland.
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