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Early Origin and Recent Expansion of Plasmodium falciparum

Science  11 Apr 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5617, pp. 318-321
DOI: 10.1126/science.1081449

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Abstract

The emergence of virulent Plasmodium falciparumin Africa within the past 6000 years as a result of a cascade of changes in human behavior and mosquito transmission has recently been hypothesized. Here, we provide genetic evidence for a sudden increase in the African malaria parasite population about 10,000 years ago, followed by migration to other regions on the basis of variation in 100 worldwide mitochondrial DNA sequences. However, both the world and some regional populations appear to be older (50,000 to 100,000 years old), suggesting an earlier wave of migration out of Africa, perhaps during the Pleistocene migration of human beings.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: djoy{at}niaid.nih.gov

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