Balantidium coli, a large ciliated protozoan parasite.
Cysts are the parasite stage responsible for transmission of balantidiasis . The host most often acquires the cyst through ingestion of contaminated food or water . Following ingestion, excystation occurs in the small intestine, and the trophozoites colonize the large intestine . The trophozoites reside in the lumen of the large intestine of humans and animals, where they replicate by binary fission, during which conjugation may occur . Trophozoites undergo encystation to produce infective cysts . Some trophozoites invade the wall of the colon and multiply. Some return to the lumen and disintegrate. Mature cysts are passed with feces .
Life cycle image and information courtesy of DPDx.