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Population Structure and Transmission Dynamics of Plasmodium vivax in the Republic of Korea Based on Microsatellite DNA Analysis

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      In order to control malaria, it is important to understand the genetic structure of the parasites in each endemic area. Plasmodium vivax is widely distributed in the tropical to temperate regions of Asia and South America, but effective strategies for its elimination have yet to be designed. In South Korea, for example, indigenous vivax malaria was eliminated by the late 1970s, but re-emerged from 1993. We estimated the population structure and temporal dynamics of transmission of P. vivax in South Korea using microsatellite DNA markers.

      Methodology/Principal Findings

      We analyzed 255 South Korean P. vivax isolates collected from 1994 to 2008, based on 10 highly polymorphic microsatellite DNA loci of the P. vivax genome. Allelic data were obtained for the 87 isolates and their microsatellite haplotypes were determined based on a combination of allelic data of the loci. In total, 40 haplotypes were observed. There were two predominant haplotypes: H16 and H25. H16 was observed in 9 isolates (10%) from 1996 to 2005, and H25 in 27 (31%) from 1995 to 2003. These results suggested that the recombination rate of P. vivax in South Korea, a temperate country, was lower than in tropical areas where identical haplotypes were rarely seen in the following year. Next, we estimated the relationships among the 40 haplotypes by eBURST analysis. Two major groups were found: one composed of 36 isolates (41%) including H25; the other of 20 isolates (23%) including H16. Despite the low recombination rate, other new haplotypes that are genetically distinct from the 2 groups have also been observed since 1997 (H27).


      These results suggested a continual introduction of P. vivax from other population sources, probably North Korea. Molecular epidemiology using microsatellite DNA of the P. vivax population is effective for assessing the population structure and transmission dynamics of the parasites - information that can assist in the elimination of vivax malaria in endemic areas.

      Author Summary

      Vivax malaria is widely prevalent, mainly in Asia and South America with 390 million reported cases in 2009. Worldwide, in the same year, 2.85 billion people were at risk. Plasmodium vivax is prevalent not only in tropical and subtropical areas but also in temperate areas where there are no mosquitoes in cold seasons. While most malaria researchers are focusing their studies on the parasite in tropical areas, we examined the characteristics of P. vivax in South Korea (temperate area) temporally, using 10 highly polymorphic microsatellite DNA (a short tandem repeat DNA sequence) in the parasite genome, and highlighted the differences between the tropical and temperate populations. We found that the South Korean P. vivax population had low genetic diversity and low recombination rates in comparison to tropical P. vivax populations that had been reported. We also found that some of the parasite clones in the population were changing from 1994 to 2008, evidence suggesting the continual introduction of the parasite from other populations, probably from North Korea. Polymorphic DNA markers of the P. vivax parasite are useful tools for estimating the situation of its transmission in endemic areas.

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      Most cited references 44

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      Microsatellites: simple sequences with complex evolution.

       Hans Ellegren (2004)
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        eBURST: inferring patterns of evolutionary descent among clusters of related bacterial genotypes from multilocus sequence typing data.

        The introduction of multilocus sequence typing (MLST) for the precise characterization of isolates of bacterial pathogens has had a marked impact on both routine epidemiological surveillance and microbial population biology. In both fields, a key prerequisite for exploiting this resource is the ability to discern the relatedness and patterns of evolutionary descent among isolates with similar genotypes. Traditional clustering techniques, such as dendrograms, provide a very poor representation of recent evolutionary events, as they attempt to reconstruct relationships in the absence of a realistic model of the way in which bacterial clones emerge and diversify to form clonal complexes. An increasingly popular approach, called BURST, has been used as an alternative, but present implementations are unable to cope with very large data sets and offer crude graphical outputs. Here we present a new implementation of this algorithm, eBURST, which divides an MLST data set of any size into groups of related isolates and clonal complexes, predicts the founding (ancestral) genotype of each clonal complex, and computes the bootstrap support for the assignment. The most parsimonious patterns of descent of all isolates in each clonal complex from the predicted founder(s) are then displayed. The advantages of eBURST for exploring patterns of evolutionary descent are demonstrated with a number of examples, including the simple Spain(23F)-1 clonal complex of Streptococcus pneumoniae, "population snapshots" of the entire S. pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus MLST databases, and the more complicated clonal complexes observed for Campylobacter jejuni and Neisseria meningitidis.
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          Microsatellite markers reveal a spectrum of population structures in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

          Multilocus genotyping of microbial pathogens has revealed a range of population structures, with some bacteria showing extensive recombination and others showing almost complete clonality. The population structure of the protozoan parasite Plasmodium falciparum has been harder to evaluate, since most studies have used a limited number of antigen-encoding loci that are known to be under strong selection. We describe length variation at 12 microsatellite loci in 465 infections collected from 9 locations worldwide. These data reveal dramatic differences in parasite population structure in different locations. Strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) was observed in six of nine populations. Significant LD occurred in all locations with prevalence <1% and in only two of five of the populations from regions with higher transmission intensities. Where present, LD results largely from the presence of identical multilocus genotypes within populations, suggesting high levels of self-fertilization in populations with low levels of transmission. We also observed dramatic variation in diversity and geographical differentiation in different regions. Mean heterozygosities in South American countries (0.3-0.4) were less than half those observed in African locations (0. 76-0.8), with intermediate heterozygosities in the Southeast Asia/Pacific samples (0.51-0.65). Furthermore, variation was distributed among locations in South America (F:(ST) = 0.364) and within locations in Africa (F:(ST) = 0.007). The intraspecific patterns of diversity and genetic differentiation observed in P. falciparum are strikingly similar to those seen in interspecific comparisons of plants and animals with differing levels of outcrossing, suggesting that similar processes may be involved. The differences observed may also reflect the recent colonization of non-African populations from an African source, and the relative influences of epidemiology and population history are difficult to disentangle. These data reveal a range of population structures within a single pathogen species and suggest intimate links between patterns of epidemiology and genetic structure in this organism.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Department of Tropical Medicine and Malaria, Research Institute, National Center for Global Health and Medicine, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
            [2 ]Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan
            [3 ]Department of Parasitology, College of Medicine, Inje University, Busanjin-gu, Busan, Korea
            [4 ]Department of Malariology, College of Medicine, Paik Institute of Clinical Research, Inje University, Busanjin-gu, Busan, Korea
            Ege University, Turkey
            Author notes

            Conceived and designed the experiments: MI MF WGK SK. Performed the experiments: MI MF SYH SHK. Analyzed the data: MI MF. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: WGK. Wrote the paper: MI MF WGK SK.

            Role: Editor
            PLoS Negl Trop Dis
            PLoS Negl Trop Dis
            PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
            Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
            April 2012
            3 April 2012
            : 6
            : 4
            Iwagami et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
            Pages: 10
            Research Article
            Population Biology
            Global Health
            Infectious Diseases
            Public Health

            Infectious disease & Microbiology


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