Host switch leads to emergence of Plasmodium vivax malaria in humans

Jianbing Mu, Deirdre A. Joy, Junhui Duan, Yaming Huang, Jane Carlton, John Walker, John Barnwell, Peter Beerli, Michael A. Charleston, Oliver G. Pybus, Xin Zhuan Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The geographical origin of Plasmodium vivax, the most widespread human malaria parasite, is controversial. Although genetic closeness to Asian primate malarias has been confirmed by phylogenetic analyses, genetic similarities between P. vivax and Plasmodium simium, a New World primate malaria, suggest that humans may have acquired P. vivax from New World monkeys or vice versa. Additionally, the near fixation of the Duffy-negative blood type (FY X B null/FY X B null) in West and Central Africa, consistent with directional selection, and the association of Duffy negativity with complete resistance to vivax malaria suggest a prolonged period of host-parasite coevolution in Africa. Here we use Bayesian and likelihood methods in conjunction with cophylogeny mapping to reconstruct the genetic and coevolutionary history of P. vivax from the complete mitochondrial genome of 176 isolates as well as several closely related Plasmodium species. Taken together, a haplotype network, parasite migration patterns, demographic history, and cophylogeny mapping support an Asian origin via a host switch from macaque monkeys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1686-1693
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Cophylogeny mapping
  • Host switch
  • Malaria
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Plasmodium vivax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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