Scientific article
Open access

Long- and short-term selective forces on malaria parasite genomes

Published inPLOS genetics, vol. 6, no. 9
Publication date2010

Plasmodium parasites, the causal agents of malaria, result in more than 1 million deaths annually. Plasmodium are unicellular eukaryotes with small approximately 23 Mb genomes encoding approximately 5200 protein-coding genes. The protein-coding genes comprise about half of these genomes. Although evolutionary processes have a significant impact on malaria control, the selective pressures within Plasmodium genomes are poorly understood, particularly in the non-protein-coding portion of the genome. We use evolutionary methods to describe selective processes in both the coding and non-coding regions of these genomes. Based on genome alignments of seven Plasmodium species, we show that protein-coding, intergenic and intronic regions are all subject to purifying selection and we identify 670 conserved non-genic elements. We then use genome-wide polymorphism data from P. falciparum to describe short-term selective processes in this species and identify some candidate genes for balancing (diversifying) selection. Our analyses suggest that there are many functional elements in the non-genic regions of these genomes and that adaptive evolution has occurred more frequently in the protein-coding regions of the genome.

  • Animals
  • Conserved Sequence/genetics
  • Genes, Protozoan/genetics
  • Genome, Protozoan/*genetics
  • Malaria/*parasitology
  • Open Reading Frames/genetics
  • Parasites/*genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Plasmodium/*genetics
  • *Selection, Genetic
  • Species Specificity
  • Time Factors
Citation (ISO format)
NYGAARD, Sanne et al. Long- and short-term selective forces on malaria parasite genomes. In: PLOS genetics, 2010, vol. 6, n° 9. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001099
Main files (1)
Article (Accepted version)
ISSN of the journal1553-7390

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