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an order of protozoans of the class Cnidosporidia. There are more than 20 genera, comprising more than 300 species. They are intracellular parasites of animals, predominantly arthropods and fish. Microsporidian amoeboids reproduce asexually (by simple division and schizogony) in the cell cytoplasm of the animal host. After the sexual process (autogamy), formation of spores (sporogony) begins. The spores are usually oval (2–10 microns in length) and have a spirally wound polar thread that serves to embed the parasite in the tissue of a new host.
Microsporidians cause diseases, microsporidioses, in various animals. For example, microsporidians of the genus Nosema are the causative agents of nosematoses, and Nosema cuniculi is possibly the cause of the human disease multiple sclerosis. Many species of Microsporidia are parasites of fish and commercial arthropods. More than 100 species are beneficial as parasites of harmful arthropods, since they cause their mass destruction; the possibility of using these species for the biological control of pests is being investigated.
REFERENCESZhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 1. Moscow, 1968.
Weiser, J. Die Mikrosporidien als Parasiten der Insekten. Hamburg-Berlin, 1961. I. V. Issi