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Diversity and composition of gut protist in young rural Zimbabwean children

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Pfavayi, Lorraine Tsitsi 
Sibanda, Elopy Nimele 
Baker, Stephen 
Woolhouse, Mark 
Mduluza, Takafira 


jats:secjats:titleBackground</jats:title>jats:pThe human gut microbiome harbours diverse species of archaea, bacteria, fungi, protists and viruses. To date, most gut microbiome studies have focused on bacteria, neglecting other microbial communities. Consequently, less is known about the diversity and abundance of the latter. Here, we aimed to characterise the diversity and composition of protists in the gut of preschool-aged children (PSAC) in rural Zimbabwe relative to host age, sex, and schistosome infection status.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleMethods</jats:title>jats:pThe gut protist of 113 PSAC (1–5 years) was examined via shotgun metagenomic sequencing and analysed for diversity. Variation in protist abundance with host and environmental factors was analysed by permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA). To investigate how the composition of specific taxa varies across age, sex, nutritional measures and jats:italicSchistosoma hematobium</jats:italic> infection status, analysis of the composition of microbiomes (ANCOM) was used.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleResults</jats:title>jats:pEighty protist genera were identified, and the most abundant genera detected was jats:italicBlastocystis.</jats:italic> The prevalence of pathogenic protists was comparatively low, with 12.4% and 3.4% of the participants’ gut colonised by jats:italicE. histolytica</jats:italic> and jats:italicCryptosporidium</jats:italic>, respectively. Of all the independent variables only jats:italicS. haematobium</jats:italic> infection showed significant relationship with the structure of the gut protist, being associated with increases in jats:italicPeronospora</jats:italic>, jats:italicPseudoperonospora</jats:italic>, jats:italicPlasmopara</jats:italic> and jats:italicBlastocystis</jats:italic> (FDR= 0.009).</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleSummary</jats:title>jats:pThis study provides data on the prevalence and diversity of the gut protists in young Zimbabwean children with an emphasis on the host factors; age, sex and schistosome infection status. Our results showed no association between the host factors investigated, including anthropometric measures adjusted for age and the intestinal protist composition and structure, but jats:italicS. haematobium</jats:italic> infection status was associated with composition of specific taxa. There is a need for more studies determining how pathogenic protist interact with non-pathogenic protist in people exhibiting clinical symptoms to inform therapy and nutraceuticals.</jats:p></jats:sec>


Peer reviewed: True

Acknowledgements: We thank all the members of the Parasite Immuno-epidemiology Group at the University of Edinburgh for their valuable comments in preparing this manuscript.


3107 Microbiology, 31 Biological Sciences, Digestive Diseases, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Infectious Diseases, Microbiome, Pediatric, 2 Aetiology, 2.2 Factors relating to the physical environment, Infection

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Frontiers in Microbiomes

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Frontiers Media SA