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Restricted genetic and antigenic diversity of Plasmodium falciparum under mesoendemic transmission in the Venezuelan Amazon

  • A. TAMI (a1) (a2), H. GRUNDMANN (a3), C. SUTHERLAND (a1), J. S. MCBRIDE (a4), D. R. CAVANAGH (a4), E. CAMPOS (a5), G. SNOUNOU (a6), C. BARNABÉ (a7), M. TIBAYRENC (a7) and D. C. WARHURST (a1)...


The study of genetic diversity in malaria populations is expected to provide new insights for the deployment of control measures. Plasmodium falciparum diversity in Africa and Asia is thought to reflect endemicity. In comprehensive epidemiological surveys reported here the genetic and antigenic structure of P. falciparum in the Venezuelan Amazon were studied over a 2-year period. DNA polymorphisms in glutamate-rich protein (GLURP), merozoite-surface protein 1 (MSP1) and MSP2 genes, in a multicopy element (PfRRM), all showed low diversity, 1 predominant genotype, and virtually no multi-clonal infections. Moreover, linkage disequilibrium was seen between GLURP, MSP1 and MSP2. Specific antibody responses against MSP1 and MSP2 recombinant antigens reflected the low genetic diversity observed in the parasite population. This is unexpected in a mesoendemic area, and suggests that the low diversity here may not only relate to endemicity but to other influences such as a bottleneck effect. Linkage disequilibrium and a predominant genotype may imply that P. falciparum frequently propagates with an epidemic or clonal population structure in the Venezuelan Amazon.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author: c/o Professor D. C. Warhurst, Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK. Tel: +44 20 7927 2341. Fax: +44 20 7637 0248. E-mail:



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