Nature 455, 757-763 (9 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07327; Received 18 January 2008; Accepted 8 August 2008

Comparative genomics of the neglected human malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax

Jane M. Carlton1,2, John H. Adams3, Joana C. Silva4,5, Shelby L. Bidwell1, Hernan Lorenzi1, Elisabet Caler1, Jonathan Crabtree1,5, Samuel V. Angiuoli5,8, Emilio F. Merino2, Paolo Amedeo1, Qin Cheng9, Richard M. R. Coulson10, Brendan S. Crabb11,12, Hernando A. del Portillo13,14, Kobby Essien15,16, Tamara V. Feldblyum5, Carmen Fernandez-Becerra13, Paul R. Gilson11, Amy H. Gueye17, Xiang Guo1, Simon Kang'a2, Taco W. A. Kooij18, Michael Korsinczky9,19, Esmeralda V.-S. Meyer20, Vish Nene4,5, Ian Paulsen1,21, Owen White5,6, Stuart A. Ralph22, Qinghu Ren1, Tobias J. Sargeant11,23, Steven L. Salzberg8, Christian J. Stoeckert15, Steven A. Sullivan2, Marcio M. Yamamoto24, Stephen L. Hoffman25, Jennifer R. Wortman5,7, Malcolm J. Gardner1,27, Mary R. Galinski19, John W. Barnwell26 & Claire M. Fraser-Liggett5,7

  1. The Institute for Genomic Research/J. Craig Venter Institute, 9704 Medical Research Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850, USA
  2. Department of Medical Parasitology, New York University Langone Medical Center, 341 East 25th Street, New York, New York 10010, USA
  3. Department of Global Health, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, 3720 Spectrum Boulevard, Suite 304, Tampa, Florida 33612, USA
  4. Department of Microbiology and Immunology,
  5. Institute for Genome Sciences,
  6. Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine,
  7. Department of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 20 Penn Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA
  8. Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA
  9. Drug Resistance and Diagnostics, Australian Army Malaria Institute, Weary Dunlop Drive, Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, Queensland 4051, Australia
  10. Microarray Group, European Bioinfomatics Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge CB10 1SD, UK
  11. The Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, 1G Royal Parade, Parkville, Victoria 3050, Australia
  12. Burnet Institute, 85 Commercial Road, Melbourne, Victoria 3004, Australia
  13. Barcelona Centre for International Health Research, Hospital Clinic/IDIBAPS, Universitat de Barcelona Roselló 132, 4a planta, 08036 Barcelona, Spain
  14. Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats, Passeig Lluís Companys, 23 08010 Barcelona, Spain
  15. Center for Bioinformatics and Department of Genetics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA
  16. Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA
  17. Hood College, Frederick, Maryland 21701, USA
  18. Department of Parasitology, Heidelberg University School of Medicine, Im Neuenheimer Feld 324, Heidelberg 69120, Germany
  19. Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
  20. Emory Vaccine Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, USA
  21. Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales 2109, Australia
  22. Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia
  23. Department of Medical Biology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia
  24. Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Lineu Prestes 1374, São Paulo, São Paulo 05508-900, Brazil
  25. Sanaria Inc., 9800 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850, USA
  26. Malaria Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-borne and Enteric Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA
  27. Present address: Seattle Biomedical Research Center, 307 Westlake Avenue N., Suite 500, Seattle, Washington 98109-5219, USA.

Correspondence to: Jane M. Carlton1,2 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to J.M.C. (Email:

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike licence (, which permits distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. This licence does not permit commercial exploitation, and derivative works must be licensed under the same or similar licence.


The human malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax is responsible for 25–40% of the approx515 million annual cases of malaria worldwide. Although seldom fatal, the parasite elicits severe and incapacitating clinical symptoms and often causes relapses months after a primary infection has cleared. Despite its importance as a major human pathogen, P. vivax is little studied because it cannot be propagated continuously in the laboratory except in non-human primates. We sequenced the genome of P. vivax to shed light on its distinctive biological features, and as a means to drive development of new drugs and vaccines. Here we describe the synteny and isochore structure of P. vivax chromosomes, and show that the parasite resembles other malaria parasites in gene content and metabolic potential, but possesses novel gene families and potential alternative invasion pathways not recognized previously. Completion of the P. vivax genome provides the scientific community with a valuable resource that can be used to advance investigation into this neglected species.


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