Sporal lipids of 3 microsporidia, Encephalitozoon cuniculi from mammals and Glugea atherinae and Spraguea lophii from fishes, were investigated. High phospholipid levels were found (54.8–64.5% of total lipids), which is in agreement with the presence of highly developed internal membranes in microsporidian spores. Sphingomyelin was not detected in G. atherinae. Triglycerides (less than 10% of total lipids), cholesterol, and free fatty acids were identified in all species. Analysis of fatty acids from the phospholipid fraction revealed the predominance of docosahexaenoic acid (30–40% of total phospholipid fatty acids) in G. atherinae and S. lophii and oleic acid (25.8% of total phospholipid fatty acids) in E. cuniculi. The 3 microsporidia possessed a significant amount of branched-chain fatty acids (iso and anteiso forms) not found in the hosts, supporting the existence of some parasite-specific metabolic steps for these fatty acids. On the basis of phospholipid fatty acid profiles, host–parasite relationships were investigated through correspondence factorial analysis. It shows 3 distinct clusters with the first corresponding to fishes, the second to fish parasites, and the third to E. cuniculi and its host cell. These data suggest that the mammal microsporidia developing within parasitophorous vacuoles are more dependent on host cells than the fish microsporidia that induce cystlike structures.
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