Evolutionary relationships between 15 Plasmodium species from New and Old World primates (including humans): a 18S rDNA cladistic analysis

M. C. LECLERC a1c1, J. P. HUGOT a2, P. DURAND a1 and F. RENAUD a1
a1 Génétique et Evolution des Maladies Infectieuses, UMR CNRS/IRD 2724, IRD, Equipe ‘Evolution des Systèmes Symbiotiques’, 911 Avenue Agropolis, 34394 Montpellier cedex 5, France
a2 Mahidol University, Research Center for Emerging Viral Diseases/Center for Vaccine Development, UR IRD 034, Institute of Sciences and Technology, Mahidol University at Salaya 25/25 Phutthamonthon 4, Nakhonpathom 73170, Thailand

Article author query
leclerc mc   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
hugot jp   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
durand p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
renaud f   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


We present a new phylogenetic analysis of 15 primate Plasmodium species based on 18S rDNA sequences including new sequences of Plasmodium coatneyi, P. fieldi, P. gonderi, P. hylobati and P. simium. The results are discussed in the context of the parasite host species and their geographical distribution. Contrary to other phylogenies constructed with this 18S rDNA molecule, we observed that the topology of phylogenetic trees was not affected either by the quality of the nucleotide matrices, or by the species present in the outgroup. This analysis showed the following. (1) The polyphyly of human Plasmodium is confirmed. (2) The monophyly of Plasmodium from Old World monkeys is confirmed by the new added sequences and P. gonderi, an African species, possibly could be at the root of this group. (3) The most parsimonious biogeographical hypothesis is that P. vivax originated in Asia; thus, its related species P. simium appears to be derived through a transfer from the human P. vivax to New World monkey species in South America. (4) Sampling efforts of non-human primate Plasmodium could permit improvement of the knowledge of primate Plasmodium phylogeny and also consideration of the risks of malaria emergence from monkey reservoirs.

(Received October 18 2003)
(Revised April 13 2004)
(Accepted April 28 2004)

Key Words: primate Plasmodium; 18S rDNA; cladistic analysis.

c1 Génétique et Evolution des Maladies Infectieuses (GEMI), UMR CNRS/IRD 2724, IRD, Equipe ‘Evolution des Systèmes Symbiotiques’, 911 Avenue Agropolis, 34394 Montpellier cedex 5, France. Tel: +33 4 67 41 62 32. Fax: +33 4 67 41 62 99. E-mail: