Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Review
, 7 (2), e1001283

A Fresh Look at the Origin of Plasmodium Falciparum, the Most Malignant Malaria Agent

Affiliations
Review

A Fresh Look at the Origin of Plasmodium Falciparum, the Most Malignant Malaria Agent

Franck Prugnolle et al. PLoS Pathog.

Abstract

From which host did the most malignant human malaria come: birds, primates, or rodents? When did the transfer occur? Over the last half century, these have been some of the questions up for debate about the origin of Plasmodium falciparum, the most common and deadliest human malaria parasite, which is responsible for at least one million deaths every year. Recent findings bring elements in favor of a transfer from great apes, but are these evidences really solid? What are the grey areas that remain to be clarified? Here, we examine in depth these new elements and discuss how they modify our perception of the origin and evolution of P. falciparum. We also discuss the perspectives these new discoveries open.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Phylogeny of the Laverania subgenus.
This phylogeny is based on partial CytochromeB sequences and including strains isolated and characterized in (A) Ollomo et al. , Prugnolle et al. , Krief et al. , and Liu et al. , and in (B) Ollomo et al. , Prugnolle et al. , Krief et al. , Duval et al. , and Liu et al. . The phylogenies were produced using a maximum likelihood approach and robustness was tested using 100 bootstraps. Names of the lineages were given following their first denomination (see Table 1) except for P. billcollinsi, which was first named by Rich et al. as P. reichenowi.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Distribution of the different subspecies of chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas in Africa and representation of the spread of the different Plasmodium species in these subspecies.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Sub-tree of the P. falciparum isolates.
This sub-tree was extracted from the tree presented in Figure 1B and built using the data from Ollomo et al. , Prugnolle et al. , Krief et al. , Duval et al. , and Liu et al. .

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 39 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

References

    1. Rich SM, Ayala FJ. Evolutionary origins of Human malaria parasites. In: Dronamraju KR, Arese P, editors. Malaria: genetic and evolutionary aspects. New York: Springer; 2006.
    1. Waters AP, Higgins DG, McCutchan TF. Plasmodium falciparum appears to have arisen as a result of lateral transfer between avian and human hosts. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991;88:3140–3144. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Waters AP, Higgins DG, McCutchan TF. Evolutionary relatedness of some primate models of Plasmodium. Mol Biol Evol. 1993;10:914–923. - PubMed
    1. Martinsen ES, Perkins SL, Schall JJ. A three-genome phylogeny of malaria parasites (Plasmodium and closely related genera): evolution of life-history traits and host switches. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2008;47:261–273. - PubMed
    1. Escalante AA, Ayala FJ. Phylogeny of the malarial genus Plasmodium, derived from rRNA gene sequences. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994;91:11373–11377. - PMC - PubMed

Publication types

MeSH terms

Feedback