Multiple independent introductions of Plasmodium falciparum in South America

E Yalcindag, E Elguero, C Arnathau, P Durand, J Akiana, TJ Anderson, A Aubouy, F Balloux, P Besnard, H Bogreau, P Carnevale, U D'Alessandro, D Fontenille, D Gamboa, T Jombart, J Le Mire, E Leroy, A Maestre, M Mayxay, D MenardL Musset, PN Newton, D Nkoghe, O Noya, B Ollomo, C Rogier, V Veron, A Wide, S Zakeri, B Carme, E Legrand, C Chevillon, FJ Ayala, F Renaud, F Prugnolle

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


    The origin of Plasmodium falciparum in South America is controversial. Some studies suggest a recent introduction during the European colonizations and the transatlantic slave trade. Other evidence-archeological and genetic-suggests a much older origin. We collected and analyzed P. falciparum isolates from different regions of the world, encompassing the distribution range of the parasite, including populations from sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South America. Analyses of microsatellite and SNP polymorphisms show that the populations of P. falciparum in South America are subdivided in two main genetic clusters (northern and southern). Phylogenetic analyses, as well as Approximate Bayesian Computation methods suggest independent introductions of the two clusters from African sources. Our estimates of divergence time between the South American populations and their likely sources favor a likely introduction from Africa during the transatlantic slave trade.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)511-516
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • B780-tropical-medicine
    • Protozoal diseases
    • Malaria
    • Plasmodium falciparum
    • Vectors
    • Mosquitoes
    • Anopheles
    • Molecular epidemiology
    • Origins
    • Geographical distribution
    • Colonial era
    • Migration
    • Genetic diversity
    • Phylogeography
    • Phylogenetics
    • Clusters
    • Africa-General
    • America-Latin


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