Out of Africa: origins and evolution of the human malaria parasites Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax

by Dorothy E. Loy, Weimin Liu, Yingying Li et al.
International Journal for Parasitology, Vol. 47, Issues 2–3, February 2017, pp. 87–97

11 pp. 1.6 MB

Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax account for more than 95% of all human malaria infections, and thus pose a serious public health challenge. To control and potentially eliminate these pathogens, it is important to understand their origins and evolutionary history. The discovery of a multitude of Plasmodium spp. in chimpanzees and gorillas has revealed that both P. falciparum and P. vivax evolved from parasites infecting wild-living African apes. Comparative genomics, coupled with functional parasite and vector studies, are likely to yield new insights into ape Plasmodium transmission and pathogenesis that are relevant to the treatment and prevention of human malaria.

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