The evolutionary origin of Plasmodium falciparum, the most prevalent and lethal of the malaria parasites infecting humans, is much debated. Genetic analysis of thousands of fecal samples from wild-living African apes show that the parasites found in the western gorillas — rather than those of chimpanzees or bonobos — are most closely related to the human parasite. The data suggest that all extant human strains of the parasite evolved from a single host transfer event. The new findings are also relevant to the current antimalaria campaign, as they point to potential Plasmodium reservoirs in apes.
- (News & Views p404, doi: 10.1038/467404a)
- Origin of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in gorillas (Article p420, doi: 10.1038/nature09442)
Recent Hot Topics
Sign up for Nature Research e-alerts to get the lastest research in your inbox every week.