Parasite evolution

Adding a piece to the puzzle

Genome-based studies increase our understanding of parasite evolution and host adaptation, but there was a lack of genetic information for Plasmodium malariae and two Plasmodium ovale species, which can cause human malaria but are found less often than other species. Rutledge et al. assembled a reference genome of P. malariae from clinically isolated parasites and they manually curated two draft genomes for both species of P. ovale; phylogenetic analysis provided insights into the evolution of the Plasmodium genus and species differentiation. Investigating host-specific adaptations, they report that P. malariae expresses a family of surface proteins that have structural similarities to a protein in Plasmodium falciparum that is essential for erythrocyte invasion. The newly available genomes will enable further studies of these Plasmodium species and the development of new diagnostic tools.


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    Rutledge, G. G. et al. Plasmodium malariae and P. ovale genomes provide insights into malaria parasite evolution. Nature (2017)

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Du Toit, A. Adding a piece to the puzzle. Nat Rev Microbiol 15, 135 (2017).

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