Population genetic analysis and sub-structuring of Theileria parva in Uganda

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2005 Apr;140(2):229-39. doi: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2004.12.015.


In recent years the population structures of many apicomplexan parasites including Plasmodium spp., Toxoplasma gondii and Cryptospordium parvum have been elucidated. These species show a considerable diversity of population structure suggesting different strategies for transmission and survival in mammalian hosts. We have undertaken a population genetic analysis of another apicomplexan species (Theileria parva) to investigate the levels of diversity of this parasite and the role of genetic exchange in three geographically separate populations. The principal hindrance to carrying out such a study on field isolates was the high proportion of blood samples that contain multiple genotypes, making it impossible to determine the genotypes of the parasites directly. This problem was overcome by sampling only young indigenous calves between 3 and 9 months of age in which approximately 60% of the T. parva infected calves contained a single/predominant allele at each locus, making it possible to undertake population genetic analyses. Blood samples were collected from calves in three geographically distinct regions of Uganda and were analysed using 12 polymorphic mini and microsatellite markers that were evenly dispersed across the four chromosomes. We have identified 84 multilocus genotypes (MLG) from these samples, indicating high levels of diversity in the parasite. Analysis of linkage disequilibrium between pairs of loci provides evidence that the population in Lira district had an epidemic structure. The population in Mbarara was substructured containing two genetically distinct sub-groups and the larger sub-group also had an epidemic population structure. The population from Kayunga was in linkage disequilibrium. Genetic distances and Wrights fixation index (F(ST)) indicate that there is evidence for geographical sub-structuring between the Lira and the Kayunga populations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Theileria parva / genetics*
  • Theileriasis / epidemiology*
  • Uganda / epidemiology