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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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