Nature 460, 352-358 (16 July 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08160; Received 18 January 2009; Accepted 22 May 2009

The genome of the blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni

Matthew Berriman1, Brian J. Haas3,22, Philip T. LoVerde4, R. Alan Wilson5, Gary P. Dillon5, Gustavo C. Cerqueira6,7,8, Susan T. Mashiyama9,10, Bissan Al-Lazikani11, Luiza F. Andrade12, Peter D. Ashton4, Martin A. Aslett1, Daniella C. Bartholomeu3,22, Gaelle Blandin3, Conor R. Caffrey9, Avril Coghlan13, Richard Coulson2, Tim A. Day14, Art Delcher7, Ricardo DeMarco5,15,16, Appolinaire Djikeng3, Tina Eyre1, John A. Gamble1, Elodie Ghedin3,22, Yong Gu1, Christiane Hertz-Fowler1, Hirohisha Hirai17, Yuriko Hirai17, Robin Houston1, Alasdair Ivens1,22, David A. Johnston18,22, Daniela Lacerda3,22, Camila D. Macedo6,8, Paul McVeigh14, Zemin Ning1, Guilherme Oliveira12, John P. Overington2, Julian Parkhill1, Mihaela Pertea7, Raymond J. Pierce19, Anna V. Protasio1, Michael A. Quail1, Marie-Adèle Rajandream1, Jane Rogers1,22, Mohammed Sajid9,22, Steven L. Salzberg7,8, Mario Stanke20, Adrian R. Tivey1, Owen White3,22, David L. Williams21,22, Jennifer Wortman3,22, Wenjie Wu4,22, Mostafa Zamanian14, Adhemar Zerlotini11, Claire M. Fraser-Liggett3,22, Barclay G. Barrell1 & Najib M. El-Sayed3,6,7,8

  1. Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute,
  2. European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge CB10 1SD, UK
  3. The Institute for Genomic Research/The J. Craig Venter Institute, 9712 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850, USA
  4. Departments of Biochemistry and Pathology, Mail Code 7760, University of Texas, Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900, USA
  5. Department of Biology, University of York, PO Box 373, York YO10 5YW, UK
  6. Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics,
  7. Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, and,
  8. Maryland Pathogen Research Institute, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA
  9. Sandler Center for Basic Research in Parasitic Diseases,
  10. Departments of Biopharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3), Byers Hall, 1700 4th Street, University of California, San Francisco, California 94158-2330, USA
  11. Cancer Research UK Centre for Cancer Therapeutics, The Institute of Cancer Research, Haddow Laboratories, 15 Cotswold Road, Belmont, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5NG, UK
  12. Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou (CPqRR)—FIOCRUZ, Av Augusto de Lima 1715, Belo Horizonte, MG 30190002, Brazil
  13. Department of Microbiology, University College Cork, Western Road, Cork, Ireland
  14. Department of Biomedical Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA
  15. Instituto de Química,
  16. Instituto de Física de São Carlos, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
  17. Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Inuyama, Aichi 484–8506, Japan
  18. Biomedical Parasitology Division, The Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK
  19. Inserm, U 547, Université Lille 2, Institut Pasteur de Lille, IFR 142, Lille, France
  20. Institut für Mikrobiologie und Genetik, Abteilung Bioinformatik, Universität Göttingen, Goldschmidtstras zlige 1, Göttingen 37077, Germany
  21. Department of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois 61790-4120, USA
  22. Present addresses: The Broad Institute, 7 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142, USA (B.J.H.); Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil (D.C.B. and D.L.); Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA (E.G.); Fios Genomics Ltd, ETTC, King's Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3JL, UK (A.I.); Biomedical Imaging Unit, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK (D.A.J.); John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK (J.R.); Leiden University Medical Centre, Parasitologie, Albinusdreef, 2333 ZA Leiden, The Netherlands (M.S.); Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA (O.W., J.W. and C.M.F.-L.); Immunology/Microbiology, Rush University Medical Center, 1735 West Harrison Street, Chicago, Illinois 60612-3824, USA (D.L.W.); Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine and Biomedical Research, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York 14214, USA (W.W.); Developmental Genomics Group, New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, 701 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, New York 14203, USA (W.W.).

Correspondence to: Matthew Berriman1Najib M. El-Sayed3,6,7,8 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to M.B. (Email: or N.M.E.-S. (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 license does not permit commercial exploitation, and derivative works must be licensed under the same or similar licence.


Schistosoma mansoni is responsible for the neglected tropical disease schistosomiasis that affects 210 million people in 76 countries. Here we present analysis of the 363 megabase nuclear genome of the blood fluke. It encodes at least 11,809 genes, with an unusual intron size distribution, and new families of micro-exon genes that undergo frequent alternative splicing. As the first sequenced flatworm, and a representative of the Lophotrochozoa, it offers insights into early events in the evolution of the animals, including the development of a body pattern with bilateral symmetry, and the development of tissues into organs. Our analysis has been informed by the need to find new drug targets. The deficits in lipid metabolism that make schistosomes dependent on the host are revealed, and the identification of membrane receptors, ion channels and more than 300 proteases provide new insights into the biology of the life cycle and new targets. Bioinformatics approaches have identified metabolic chokepoints, and a chemogenomic screen has pinpointed schistosome proteins for which existing drugs may be active. The information generated provides an invaluable resource for the research community to develop much needed new control tools for the treatment and eradication of this important and neglected disease.


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