The best-known species is Trichomonas vaginalis, a common inhabitant of the vagina of human females. It travels along the mucus coated lining of the reproductive and urinary tract of its hosts by moving its flagella and by undulating part of its plasma membrane. If the normal acidity of the vagina is disturbed, T. vaginalis can outcompete beneficial microbes and infect the vagina lining. Such infection, which can be sexually transmitted, can also occur in the urethra of males, though often without symptoms. Genetics studies of T. vaginalis suggests that the species became pathogenic when some of these Parabasalids acquired a particular gene through horizontal gene transfer from bacteria that also dwell in the vagina. The gene allows T. vaginalis to feed on epithelial cells, resulting in infection.
Species of Trichomonas include:
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