Malaria is a major endemic parasitic diseases in Brazil, with over 300,000 clinical cases recorded in the Amazon Basin in 2009. Nearly 85% of these infections are due to Plasmodium vivax. Understanding how this human pathogen diversifies over time and space is a central issue in Ecology and Population Genetics, with clear implications for designing control strategies. This proposal aims at examining the population dynamics of genetically distinct lineages of P. vivax, characterized with evolutively neutral markers, in a well-defined rural Amazonian community. We will analyze parasite samples collected during prospective cohort studies that involved 509 subjects, followed between 2004 and 2007, living in a stable agricultural settlement (Granada) with low levels of malaria transmission. Venous blood samples were collected from subjects presenting with P. vivax during the follow-up. The field P. vivax isolates will be genetically characterized with a set of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in housekeeping genes, which are likely to be free of diversifying selection, distributed across 12 chromosomes of P. vivax. SNPs display lower mutation rates and greater reproducibility, compared to the microsatellite DNA markers that we have used in previous population-based studies, allowing for their use to analyze parasites collected over a wide temporal and geographic range and for comparisons of results obtained by different research groups.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: