Genome-wide patterns of genetic polymorphism and signatures of selection in plasmodium vivax

Omar E. Cornejo, David Fisher, Ananias A. Escalante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Plasmodium vivax is the most prevalent human malaria parasite outside of Africa. Yet, studies aimed to identify genes with signatures consistent with natural selection are rare. Here, we present a comparative analysis of the pattern of genetic variation of five sequenced isolates of P. vivax and its divergence with two closely related species, Plasmodium cynomolgi and Plasmodium knowlesi, using a set of orthologous genes. In contrast to Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most lethal form of human malaria, we did not find significant constraints on the evolution of synonymous sites genome wide in P. vivax. The comparative analysis of polymorphism and divergence across loci allowed us to identify 87 genes with patterns consistent with positive selection, including genes involved in the "exportome" of P. vivax, which are potentially involved in evasion of the host immune system. Nevertheless, we have found a pattern of polymorphism genome wide that is consistent with a significant amount of constraint on the replacement changes and prevalent negative selection. Our analyses also show that silent polymorphism tends to be larger toward the ends of the chromosomes, where many genes involved in antigenicity are located, suggesting that natural selection acts not only by shaping the patterns of variation within the genes but it also affects genome organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-119
Number of pages14
JournalGenome biology and evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 27 2014


  • Plasmodium
  • Plasmodium vivax
  • genome architecture
  • genome variation
  • natural selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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