Research Output
The symbiotic spectrum: where do the gregarines fit?
  Gregarine apicomplexans are closely related to parasites such as Plasmodium, Toxoplasma, and Cryptosporidium, which are causing severe health and economic burdens. Colonizing only invertebrates and having no obvious medical relevance, they are mostly ignored in ‘omics’ studies, although gregarines are the most basal apicomplexans and therefore key players in the understanding of the evolution of parasitism in the Apicomplexa from free-living ancestors. They belong to the largest exclusively parasitic phylum, but is this perception actually true? The effects of
gregarines on their hosts seem to cover the whole spectrum of symbiosis from mutualistic to parasitic. We suggest future research directions to understand the evolutionary role of gregarines, by elucidating their biology and interaction with their hosts and the hosts’ microbiota.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    22 July 2019

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  • DOI:


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  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    QR Microbiology

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    577 Ecology

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Rueckert, S., Betts, E. L., & Tsaousis, A. D. (2019). The symbiotic spectrum: where do the gregarines fit?. Trends in Parasitology, 35(9), 687-694.



Apicomplexa, gregarines, symbiosis, parasitism, invertebrate microbiome

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