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What is so peculiar about the binary fission in Leishmania?

Last updated date: 17th Jun 2024
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Hint: Leishmania are a species of protozoan parasites that infect humans and other mammals through sandflies. The microorganism has well-defined cell organelles, especially one for movement. The presence of this organelle causes the binary fission to be different from that observed in other microbes that undergo this division.

Complete answer:
- The Leishmania is a genus of trypanosomes. They are parasites that infect humans through the bite of sandflies. They cause cutaneous leishmaniasis and visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar). These disorders are characterized by swollen spleen and liver.
- They are unicellular eukaryotes that have a well-defined nucleus and organelles such as kinetoplasts and flagella. The flagellum is present at one end.
- Unlike amoeba and amoeboid organisms that undergo binary fission through any plane, the splitting of the parent Leishmania cell takes place in a definite plane (longitudinally) with respect to flagellum at its end.

Additional Information:
- Primary hosts of Leishmania are vertebrates, including humans, rodents, etc.
- Leishmaniasis affects the population in the tropical and subtropical regions. The disease can be prevented by using sleeping nets sprayed with insecticide.
- The genus is characterized by the presence of two prominent organelles, kinetoplasts and flagella. The kinetoplasts are a network of circular DNA inside large mitochondria that contains multiple copies of the mitochondrial genome. Flagella are lash-like appendages emerging from bacteria and other eukaryotic cells that mainly function as a locomotory organ.

- Leishmania is spread by two different types of sandflies depending on the location, Phlebotomus in the Old World and Lutzomyia in the New World.
- Visceral leishmaniasis is now being known as an important opportunistic infection in areas where it coexists with HIV.