Extracellular excystation and development of Cryptosporidium: tracing the fate of oocysts within Pseudomonas aquatic biofilm systems

W Koh, A Thompson, H Edwards, P Monis, Peta Clode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background
Aquatic biofilms often serve as environmental reservoirs for microorganisms and provide them with a nutrient-rich growth environment under harsh conditions. With regard to Cryptosporidium, biofilms can serve as environmental reservoirs for oocysts, but may also support the growth of additional Cryptosporidium stages.

Results
Here we used confocal laser scanning microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and flow cytometry to identify and describe various Cryptosporidium developmental stages present within aquatic biofilm systems, and to directly compare these to stages produced in cell culture. We also show that Cryptosporidium has the ability to form a parasitophorous vacuole independently, in a host-free biofilm environment, potentially allowing them to complete an extracellular life cycle. Correlative data from confocal and SEM imaging of the same cells confirmed that the observed developmental stages (including trophozoites, meronts, and merozoites) were Cryptosporidium. These microscopy observations were further supported by flow cytometric analyses, where excysted oocyst populations were detected in 1, 3 and 6 day-old Cryptosporidium-exposed biofilms, but not in biofilm-free controls.

Conclusions
These observations not only highlight the risk that aquatic biofilms pose in regards to Cryptosporidium outbreaks from water distribution systems, but further indicate that even simple biofilms are able to stimulate oocyst excystation and support the extracellular multiplication and development of Cryptosporidium within aquatic environments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number281
Pages (from-to)281-292
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Microbiology
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2014

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