Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 59, Issue 5, pp 687–694 | Cite as

Genetic Distance in Housekeeping Genes Between Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium reichenowi and Within P. falciparum

  • Kazuyuki Tanabe
  • Naoko Sakihama
  • Tetsuya Hattori
  • Lisa Ranford-Cartwright
  • Ira Goldman
  • Ananias A. Escalante
  • Altaf A. Lal


The time to the most recent common ancestor of the extant populations of Plasmodium falciparum is controversial. The controversy primarily stems from the limited availability of sequences from Plasmodium reichenowi, a chimpanzee malaria parasite closely related to P. falciparum. Since the rate of nucleotide substitution differs in different loci and DNA regions, the estimation of genetic distance between P. falciparum and P. reichenowi should be performed using orthologous sequences that are evolving neutrally. Here, we obtained full-length sequences of two housekeeping genes, sarcoplasmic and endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (serca) and lactate dehydrogenase (ldh), from 11 isolates of P. falciparum and 1 isolate of P. reichenowi and estimate the interspecific genetic distance (divergence) between the two species and intraspecific genetic distance (polymorphism) within P. falciparum. Interspecific distance and intraspecific distance at synonymous sites of interspecies-conserved regions of serca and ldh were 0.0672 ± 0.0088 and 0.0011 ± 0.0007, respectively, using the Nei and Gojobori method. Based on the ratio of interspecific distance to intraspecific distance, the time to the most recent common ancestor of P. falciparum was estimated to be (8.30 ± 5.40) × 104 and (11.62 ± 7.56) × 104 years ago, assuming the divergence time of the two parasite species to be 5 and 7 million years ago, respectively.


Malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum Plasmodium reichenowi Polymorphism Genetic distance Most recent common ancestor Sarcoplasmic and endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase Lactate dehydrogenase 



We thank Dr. T. Mitamura for DNA of the P. falciparum Dd2 strain. This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Priority Areas from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (No. 14021125) and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (No. 15590377). A. Escalante is supported by a grant from NIH.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kazuyuki Tanabe
    • 1
  • Naoko Sakihama
    • 1
  • Tetsuya Hattori
    • 2
  • Lisa Ranford-Cartwright
    • 3
  • Ira Goldman
    • 4
  • Ananias A. Escalante
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Altaf A. Lal
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratory of Biology, faculty of EngineeringOsaka Institute of TechnologyAsahi-kuJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory of Mathematics, Faculty of EngineeringOsaka Institute of TechnologyJapan
  3. 3.Division of Infection & Immunity, Institute of Biomedical & Life SciencesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  4. 4.Division of Parasitic DiseasesCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  5. 5.Department of BiologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  6. 6.Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones CientificasCaracasVenezuela

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