Folia Parasitologica 52[1/2] 1-7 (2005) | 10.14411/fp.2005.001
The phylum Microsporidia is a large group of parasitic unicellular eukaryotes that infect a wide range of invertebrate and vertebrate taxa. These organisms are significant human and veterinary pathogens with impacts on medicine, agriculture and aquaculture. Scientists working on these pathogens represent diverse disciplines that have had limited opportunities for detailed interactions. A NATO Advanced Research Workshop 'Emergent Pathogens in the 21st Century: First United Workshop on Microsporidia from Invertebrate and Vertebrate Hosts' was held July 12-15, 2004 at the Institute of Parasitology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic to bring together experts in insect, fish, veterinary and human microsporidiosis for the exchange of information on these pathogens. At this meeting, discussions were held on issues related to taxonomy and phylogeny. It was recognized that microsporidia are related to fungi, but the strong opinion of the participants was that the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature should continue to be applied for taxonomic descriptions of the Microsporidia and that they be treated as an independent group emerging from a paraphyletic fungi. There continues to be exponential growth in the pace and volume of research on these ubiquitous intracellular protists. The small genomes of these organisms and the reduction in the size of many of their genes are of interest to many disciplines. Many microsporidia are dimorphic and the mechanisms underlying these morphologic changes remain to be elucidated. Epidemiologic studies to clarify the source of human microsporidiosis and ecologic studies to understand the multifaceted relationship of the Microsporidia and their hosts are important avenues of investigation. Studies on the Microsporidia should prove useful to many fields of biologic investigation.
Received: September 30, 2004; Accepted: October 10, 2004; Published: May 1, 2005