A new Plasmodium vivax reference genome for South American isolates

Katlijn De Meulenaere, Bart Cuypers, Dionicia Gamboa, Kris Laukens, Anna Rosanas-Urgell

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

17 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Plasmodium vivax is the second most important cause of human malaria worldwide, and accounts for the majority of malaria cases in South America. A high-quality reference genome exists for Papua Indonesia (PvP01) and Thailand (PvW1), but is lacking for South America. A reference genome specifically for South America would be beneficial though, as P. vivax is a genetically diverse parasite with geographical clustering.

RESULTS: This study presents a new high-quality assembly of a South American P. vivax isolate, referred to as PvPAM (P. vivax Peruvian AMazon). The genome was obtained from a low input patient sample from the Peruvian Amazon and sequenced using PacBio technology, resulting in a highly complete assembly with 6497 functional genes. Telomeric ends were present in 17 out of 28 chromosomal ends, and additional (sub)telomeric regions are present in 12 unassigned contigs. A comparison of multigene families between PvPAM and the PvP01 genome revealed remarkable variation in vir genes, and the presence of merozoite surface proteins (MSP) 3.6 and 3.7. Three dhfr and dhps drug resistance associated mutations are present in PvPAM, similar to those found in other Peruvian isolates. Mapping of publicly available South American whole genome sequencing (WGS) data to PvPAM resulted in significantly fewer variants and truncated reads compared to the use of PvP01 or PvW1 as reference genomes. To minimize the number of core genome variants in non-South American samples, PvW1 is most suited for Southeast Asian isolates, both PvPAM and PvW1 are suited for South Asian isolates, and PvPAM is recommended for African isolates. Interestingly, non-South American samples still contained the least subtelomeric variants when mapped to PvPAM, indicating high quality of the PvPAM subtelomeric regions.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show that the PvPAM reference genome more accurately represents South American P. vivax isolates in comparison to PvP01 and PvW1. In addition, PvPAM has a high level of completeness, and contains a similar number of annotated genes as PvP01 or PvW1. The PvPAM genome therefore will be a valuable resource to improve future genomic analyses on P. vivax isolates from the South American continent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number606
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Humans
  • Plasmodium vivax/genetics
  • Malaria/parasitology
  • South America
  • Whole Genome Sequencing
  • Mutation
  • Malaria, Vivax/parasitology
  • Protozoan Proteins/genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'A new Plasmodium vivax reference genome for South American isolates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this