Microsatellite Genotyping of Plasmodium vivax Isolates from Pregnant Women in Four Malaria Endemic Countries
Plasmodium vivax is the most widely distributed human parasite and the main cause of human malaria outside the African continent. However, the knowledge about the genetic variability of P. vivax is limited when compared to the information available for P. falciparum. We present the results of a study aimed at characterizing the genetic structure of P. vivax populations obtained from pregnant women from different malaria endemic settings. Between June 2008 and October 2011 nearly 2000 pregnant women were recruited during routine antenatal care at each site and followed up until delivery. A capillary blood sample from the study participants was collected for genotyping at different time points. Seven P. vivax microsatellite markers were used for genotypic characterization on a total of 229 P. vivax isolates obtained from Brazil, Colombia, India and Papua New Guinea. In each population, the number of alleles per locus, the expected heterozygosity and the levels of multilocus linkage disequilibrium were assessed. The extent of genetic differentiation among populations was also estimated. Six microsatellite loci on 137 P. falciparum isolates from three countries were screened for comparison. The mean value of expected heterozygosity per country ranged from 0.839 to 0.874 for P. vivax and from 0.578 to 0.758 for P. falciparum. P. vivax populations were more diverse than those of P. falciparum. In some of the studied countries, the diversity of P. vivax population was very high compared to the respective level of endemicity. The level of inter-population differentiation was moderate to high in all P. vivax and P. falciparum populations studied.