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Development and evaluation of molecular tools for detecting and differentiating intestinal amoebae in healthy individuals

  • Amal Chihi (a1) (a2), Christen R. Stensvold (a3), Imene Ben-abda (a1) (a4), Rania Ben-Romdhane (a1), Karim Aoun (a1), Emna Siala (a4) and Aïda Bouratbine (a1) (a4)...


Amoebae are single-celled parasites frequently colonizing human gut. However, few molecular tools are available for accurate identification. Here, we evaluated a panel of polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) targeting Entamoeba histolytica, Entamoeba dispar, Entamoeba coli, Entamoeba hartmanni, Entamoeba polecki, Endolimax nana and Iodamoeba bütschlii. Thirty-six faecal samples (18 containing at least one amoeba species by microscopy and 18 microscopy negative for amoebae) were tested. Real-time PCRs were used for detection and differentiation of E. histolytica and E. dispar. Conventional PCR with Sanger sequencing were applied for detection and differentiation of E. coli, E. hartmanni, E. polecki, E. nana and I. bütschlii. All microscopy results were confirmed by DNA-based methods. However, more samples were positive for single and mixed amoebic species by DNA-based assays than by microscopy (22 vs 18 and 7 vs 1, respectively). DNA sequencing allowed identification of E. coli subtypes (ST1 and ST2), showed low intra-specific variation within E. hartmanni, identified two phylogenetically distinct groups within E. nana, and identified Iodamoeba at the ribosomal lineage level. Taking into account the high intra-genetic diversity within some of the species at the small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene level, amplification of SSU rRNA genes with subsequent sequencing represents a useful method for detecting, differentiating and subtyping intestinal amoebae.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Aïda Bouratbine, E-mail:


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