Population genomics in neglected malaria parasites

Front Microbiol. 2022 Sep 8;13:984394. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.984394. eCollection 2022.


Malaria elimination includes neglected human malaria parasites Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale spp., and Plasmodium malariae. Biological features such as association with low-density infection and the formation of hypnozoites responsible for relapse make their elimination challenging. Studies on these parasites rely primarily on clinical samples due to the lack of long-term culture techniques. With improved methods to enrich parasite DNA from clinical samples, whole-genome sequencing of the neglected malaria parasites has gained increasing popularity. Population genomics of more than 2200 P. vivax global isolates has improved our knowledge of parasite biology and host-parasite interactions, identified vaccine targets and potential drug resistance markers, and provided a new way to track parasite migration and introduction and monitor the evolutionary response of local populations to elimination efforts. Here, we review advances in population genomics for neglected malaria parasites, discuss how the rich genomic information is being used to understand parasite biology and epidemiology, and explore opportunities for the applications of malaria genomic data in malaria elimination practice.

Keywords: genomics; malaria; neglected; population genomics; vivax malaria.

Publication types

  • Review