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.
Rutledge, G. G. et al. Plasmodium malariae and P. ovale genomes provide insights into malaria parasite evolution. Nature http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature21038 (2017)