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Genetic diversity of Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum in Honduras

Ana Cecilia Lopez1, Andres Ortiz1, Jorge Coello1, Wilfredo Sosa-Ochoa1, Rosa E Mejia Torres2, Engels I Banegas2, Irina Jovel34 and Gustavo A Fontecha1*

Author Affiliations

1 MEIZ-Microbiology School, National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), Tegucigalpa, Honduras

2 National Malaria Laboratory, Department of National Surveillance Laboratory, Ministry of Health, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

3 Parasitology Department, Microbiology School, National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), Tegucigalpa, Honduras

4 Malaria Research Laboratory, Infectious Diseases Unit, Department of Medicine, Karolinska University Hospital/Karolinska Institutet, Retzius väg 10, Stockholm, 171 77, Sweden

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Malaria Journal 2012, 11:391  doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-391

Published: 26 November 2012



Understanding the population structure of Plasmodium species through genetic diversity studies can assist in the design of more effective malaria control strategies, particularly in vaccine development. Central America is an area where malaria is a public health problem, but little is known about the genetic diversity of the parasite’s circulating species. This study aimed to investigate the allelic frequency and molecular diversity of five surface antigens in field isolates from Honduras.


Five molecular markers were analysed to determine the genotypes of Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum from endemic areas in Honduras. Genetic diversity of ama-1, msp-1 and csp was investigated for P. vivax, and msp-1 and msp-2 for P. falciparum. Allelic frequencies were calculated and sequence analysis performed.

Results and conclusion

A high genetic diversity was observed within Plasmodium isolates from Honduras. A different number of genotypes were elucidated: 41 (n = 77) for pvama-1; 23 (n = 84) for pvcsp; and 23 (n = 35) for pfmsp-1. Pvcsp sequences showed VK210 as the only subtype present in Honduran isolates. Pvmsp-1 (F2) was the most polymorphic marker for P. vivax isolates while pvama-1 was least variable. All three allelic families described for pfmsp-1 (n = 30) block 2 (K1, MAD20, and RO33), and both allelic families described for the central domain of pfmsp-2 (n = 11) (3D7 and FC27) were detected. However, K1 and 3D7 allelic families were predominant. All markers were randomly distributed across the country and no geographic correlation was found. To date, this is the most complete report on molecular characterization of P. vivax and P. falciparum field isolates in Honduras with regards to genetic diversity. These results indicate that P. vivax and P. falciparum parasite populations are highly diverse in Honduras despite the low level of transmission.

pvama-1; pvcsp; pvmsp-1; pfmsp-1; pfmsp-2; Plasmodium vivax; Plasmodium falciparum; Honduras