Extensive microsatellite diversity in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax


Karunaweera, ND, MU Ferreira, A Munasinghe, JW Barnwell, WE Collins, CL King, F Kawamoto, DL Hartl, and DF Wirth. 2008. “Extensive microsatellite diversity in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax.” Gene 410: 105-12.

Date Published:

Feb 29


The population structure of Plasmodium vivax remains elusive. The markers of choice for large-scale population genetic studies of eukaryotes, short tandem repeats known as microsatellites, have been recently reported to be less polymorphic in P. vivax. Here we investigate the microsatellite diversity and geographic structure in P. vivax, at both local and global levels, using 14 new markers consisting of tri- or tetranucleotide repeats. The local-level analysis, which involved 50 field isolates from Sri Lanka, revealed unexpectedly high diversity (average virtual heterozygosity [H(E)], 0.807) and significant multilocus linkage disequilibrium in this region of low malaria endemicity. Multiple-clone infections occurred in 60% of isolates sampled in 2005. The global-level analysis of field isolates or monkey-adapted strains identified 150 unique haplotypes among 164 parasites from four continents. Individual P. vivax isolates could not be unambiguously assigned to geographic populations. For example, we found relatively low divergence among parasites from Central America, Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania, but substantial differentiation between parasites from the same continent (South Asia and Southeast Asia) or even from the same country (Brazil). Parasite relapses, which may extend the duration of P. vivax carriage in humans, are suggested to facilitate the spread of strains across continents, breaking down any pre-existing geographic structure.


Karunaweera, Nadira DFerreira, Marcelo UMunasinghe, AnushaBarnwell, John WCollins, William EKing, Christopher LKawamoto, FumihikoHartl, Daniel LWirth, Dyann FengR01 GM 061351/GM/NIGMS NIH HHS/Research Support, N.I.H., ExtramuralResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tResearch Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.Netherlands2008/01/30 09:00Gene. 2008 Feb 29;410(1):105-12. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2007.11.022. Epub 2008 Jan 15.

Last updated on 05/12/2015