Blastocystis is an intestinal microeukaryote that has raised attention due to its wide distribution in animals and humans. The risk of zoonotic circulation primarily arises from close contact with infected animals. Therefore, the following study aimed to evaluate the diversity and frequency of Blastocystis subtypes in Colombian human and animal samples using complete sequencing of the 18S rRNA gene. For this purpose, 341 human stool samples and 277 animal fecal samples (from cattle, sheep, goat, pigs, cats, and dogs), were collected from different Colombian regions and analyzed using PCR-based detection and full-length 18S SSU rRNA gene Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS). Among the 618 samples from both hosts, humans and animals, the results revealed widespread Blastocystis frequency, with 48.09% (n = 164) in humans and 31.4% (n = 87) detection in animals. Dogs, cats, sheep, pigs, and wild animals tested positive, aligning with global prevalence patterns. Also, 29 human samples and 23 animal samples were sequenced using ONT technology from which 11 long-read unique sequences were generated and cluster with their compared reference sequences. The subtype distribution varied within hosts, detecting ST1 and ST3 in both human and animal samples. Subtypes ST5, ST10, ST14, ST15, ST21, ST24, ST25 and ST26 were limited to animals hosts, some of which are considered to have zoonotic potential. On the other hand, ST2 was found exclusively in human samples from Bolivar region. Mixed infections occurred in both animal and humans, 60.86% and 27.58% respectively. Moreover, to our knowledge, this is the first study in Colombia identifying ST15 in pigs and ST25 in sheep. The subtypes (STs) identified in this study indicate that certain animals may serve as reservoirs with the potential for zoonotic transmission. The identification of zoonotic subtypes highlights the use of Next Generation Sequencing as the depth and resolution of the sequences increases providing insights into STs of medical and veterinarian significance. It also reveals the coexistence of diverse subtypes among hosts. Further research is essential for understanding transmission dynamics, health implications, and detection strategies for Blastocystis occurrence in animals and humans, mainly associated to the role of animals as reservoirs and their close interaction with humans.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases