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Open Access Research article

ESTs from the microsporidian Edhazardia aedis

Erin E Gill1, James J Becnel2 and Naomi M Fast1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada

2 Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, USDA/ARS, Gainesville, FL 32608, USA

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:296  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-296

Published: 20 June 2008



Microsporidia are a group of parasites related to fungi that infect a wide variety of animals and have gained recognition from the medical community in the past 20 years due to their ability to infect immuno-compromised humans. Microsporidian genomes range in size from 2.3 to 19.5 Mbp, but almost all of our knowledge comes from species that have small genomes (primarily from the human parasite Encephalitozoon cuniculi and the locust parasite Antonospora locustae). We have conducted an EST survey of the mosquito parasite Edhazardia aedis, which has an estimated genome size several times that of more well-studied species. The only other microsporidian EST project is from A. locustae, and serves as a basis for comparison with E. aedis.


The spore transcriptomes of A. locustae and E. aedis were compared and the numbers of unique transcripts that belong to each COG (Clusters of Orthologous Groups of proteins) category differ by at most 5%. The transcripts themselves have widely varying start sites and encode a number of proteins that have not been found in other microsporidia examined to date. However, E. aedis seems to lack the multi-gene transcripts present in A. locustae and E. cuniculi. We also present the first documented case of transcription of a transposable element in microsporidia.


Although E. aedis and A. locustae are distantly related, have very disparate life cycles and contain genomes estimated to be vastly different sizes, their patterns of transcription are similar. The architecture of the ancestral microsporidian genome is unknown, but the presence of genes in E. aedis that have not been found in other microsporidia suggests that extreme genome reduction and compaction is lineage specific and not typical of all microsporidia.