Evidence of sexual reproduction in the protozoan parasite Leishmania (kinetoplastida: Trypanosomatidae)

R. D. Kreutzer, J. J. Yemma, M. Grogl, R. B. Tesh, T. I. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Parasitic protozoa of the genus Leishmania (Kinetoplastida: Trypanosomatidae) are generally thought to multiply by binary fission; however, data from quantitative microspectrophotometry indicate that nuclear fusion or sexual reproduction takes place in the intracellular amastigote form. Among several different Leishmania species, the mean ± SD nuclear DNA content of all promastigotes (extracellular form) and of some amastigotes (intracellular form) in macrophages was 0.098 ± 0.032 relative units; in contrast, other amastigotes within the same macrophage had a mean ± SD nuclear DNA content of 0.219 ± 0.050. The latter population of amastigotes are apparently produced when the nuclei of a pair of 0.098 amastigotes fuse. These 0.219 amastigotes later go through what is probably the typical meiotic cycle to reform the 0.098 condition we observed among promastigotes. The demonstration of sexual reproduction in Leishmania has important implications for the future direction of research on this medically important parasite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-307
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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