Encyclopedia of Parasitology

2016 Edition
| Editors: Heinz Mehlhorn


  • Heinz MehlhornEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-43978-4_2806


Greek: sarx = meat, flesh; sporas = spore, seed.

This group of protozoan parasites was described first by the Swiss biologist and physician  Miescher-His, who detected 9 μm sized (in length), bended cells in “cyst-like” inclusions in muscles of mice (Fig. 1). Since these cells did not start movements when placed in aqueous physiological solutions, Miescher named them as spores. Since these “spores” occurred inside muscle fibers, this group thus was described with the Greek-derived term “sarcosporidia.” The single cysts in such a muscle fiber were also named “Miescher’s tubes” honoring their discoverer. Later in the years 1972–1975 the life cycles of the  Sarcocystis species were detected by the German groups of Rommel, Heydorn, and Mehlhorn showing that these life cycles combine an intermediate host containing the tissue cysts and a final host, which excretes infectious oocysts. Today about 200  Sarcocystis species are known.
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Zoomorphologie, Zellbiologie und ParasitologieHeinrich-Heine-UniversitätDüsseldorfGermany