Editor's Summary

9 October 2008

MALARIA PARASITES: New Plasmodium sequences kick-start comparative genomics


Four distinct Plasmodium species are known to regularly infect humans: Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae and P. ovale. The genome sequence of P. falciparum, the cause of the most severe type of human malaria, was completed in 2002 at the same time as the mosquito vector, Anopheles gambiae. In this week's Nature, which focuses on the malaria parasite, two further malaria genome sequences are described. First that of P. vivax, which contributes significant numbers to malaria incidence in humans, though in contrast to P. falciparum, the resulting disease is usually not fatal. The genome of this rather neglected species is presented together with a comparative analysis with the genomes of other Plasmodium species. Second, we publish the genome sequence of Plasmodiumknowlesi. For long regarded as a monkey malaria parasite, it is increasingly becoming recognized as the fifth human-infecting Plasmodium species. In particular, it is prevalent in South East Asia where it is often misdiagnosed as another human malaria parasite P. malariae. As a model organism P. knowlesi stands out: not only is it a primate system, useful for work on vaccines, but it can be cultured in vitro and subjected to efficient transfection and gene knockouts. In a Review Article, Elizabeth Winzeler considers the progress made towards using the genome sequence to understand basic malaria parasite biology, and in particular the work on developing rational therapeutic approaches to combat P. falciparum infections. See also the Editorial. For a comprehensive collection of resources visit Nature's past malaria specials: Malaria killer blow; Outlook on malaria; Malaria web focus; Malaria Insight; Nature Medicine focus on malaria; Focus on malaria

EditorialMalaria's watershed

Malaria's moment has come, but success in control, let alone eradication, demands a renewed commitment to basic research.

doi:10.1038/455707a

ReviewMalaria research in the post-genomic era

Elizabeth Ann Winzeler

doi:10.1038/nature07361

ArticleComparative genomics of the neglected human malaria parasite Plasmodium vivax

Jane M. Carlton, John H. Adams, Joana C. Silva, Shelby L. Bidwell, Hernan Lorenzi, Elisabet Caler, Jonathan Crabtree, Samuel V. Angiuoli, Emilio F. Merino, Paolo Amedeo, Qin Cheng, Richard M. R. Coulson, Brendan S. Crabb, Hernando A. del Portillo, Kobby Essien, Tamara V. Feldblyum, Carmen Fernandez-Becerra, Paul R. Gilson, Amy H. Gueye, Xiang Guo, Simon Kang'a, Taco W. A. Kooij, Michael Korsinczky, Esmeralda V.-S. Meyer, Vish Nene, Ian Paulsen, Owen White, Stuart A. Ralph, Qinghu Ren, Tobias J. Sargeant, Steven L. Salzberg, Christian J. Stoeckert, Steven A. Sullivan, Marcio M. Yamamoto, Stephen L. Hoffman, Jennifer R. Wortman, Malcolm J. Gardner, Mary R. Galinski, John W. Barnwell & Claire M. Fraser-Liggett

doi:10.1038/nature07327

LetterThe genome of the simian and human malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi

A. Pain, U. Böhme, A. E. Berry, K. Mungall, R. D. Finn, A. P. Jackson, T. Mourier, J. Mistry, E. M. Pasini, M. A. Aslett, S. Balasubrammaniam, K. Borgwardt, K. Brooks, C. Carret, T. J. Carver, I. Cherevach, T. Chillingworth, T. G. Clark, M. R. Galinski, N. Hall, D. Harper, D. Harris, H. Hauser, A. Ivens, C. S. Janssen, T. Keane, N. Larke, S. Lapp, M. Marti, S. Moule, I. M. Meyer, D. Ormond, N. Peters, M. Sanders, S. Sanders, T. J. Sargeant, M. Simmonds, F. Smith, R. Squares, S. Thurston, A. R. Tivey, D. Walker, B. White, E. Zuiderwijk, C. Churcher, M. A. Quail, A. F. Cowman, C. M. R. Turner, M. A. Rajandream, C. H. M. Kocken, A. W. Thomas, C. I. Newbold, B. G. Barrell & M. Berriman

doi:10.1038/nature07306