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Article

Novel Molecular Synapomorphies Demarcate Different Main Groups/Subgroups of Plasmodium and Piroplasmida Species Clarifying Their Evolutionary Relationships

Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON L8N 3Z5, Canada
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Genes 2019, 10(7), 490; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10070490
Received: 16 May 2019 / Revised: 11 June 2019 / Accepted: 14 June 2019 / Published: 28 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and Genomics of Malaria Parasites)
The class Hematozoa encompasses several clinically important genera, including Plasmodium, whose members cause the major life-threating disease malaria. Hence, a good understanding of the interrelationships of organisms from this class and reliable means for distinguishing them are of much importance. This study reports comprehensive phylogenetic and comparative analyses on protein sequences on the genomes of 28 hematozoa species to understand their interrelationships. In addition to phylogenetic trees based on two large datasets of protein sequences, detailed comparative analyses were carried out on the genomes of hematozoa species to identify novel molecular synapomorphies consisting of conserved signature indels (CSIs) in protein sequences. These studies have identified 79 CSIs that are exclusively present in specific groups of Hematozoa/Plasmodium species, also supported by phylogenetic analysis, providing reliable means for the identification of these species groups and understanding their interrelationships. Of these CSIs, six CSIs are specifically shared by all hematozoa species, two CSIs serve to distinguish members of the order Piroplasmida, five CSIs are uniquely found in all Piroplasmida species except B. microti and two CSIs are specific for the genus Theileria. Additionally, we also describe 23 CSIs that are exclusively present in all genome-sequenced Plasmodium species and two, nine, ten and eight CSIs which are specific for members of the Plasmodium subgenera Haemamoeba, Laverania, Vinckeia and Plasmodium (excluding P. ovale and P. malariae), respectively. Additionally, our work has identified several CSIs that support species relationships which are not evident from phylogenetic analysis. Of these CSIs, one CSI supports the ancestral nature of the avian-Plasmodium species in comparison to the mammalian-infecting groups of Plasmodium species, four CSIs strongly support a specific relationship of species between the subgenera Plasmodium and Vinckeia and three CSIs each that reliably group P. malariae with members of the subgenus Plasmodium and P. ovale within the subgenus Vinckeia, respectively. These results provide a reliable framework for understanding the evolutionary relationships among the Plasmodium/Piroplasmida species. Further, in view of the exclusivity of the described molecular markers for the indicated groups of hematozoa species, particularly large numbers of unique characteristics that are specific for all Plasmodium species, they provide important molecular tools for biochemical/genetic studies and for developing novel diagnostics and therapeutics for these organisms. View Full-Text
Keywords: genome sequences; molecular markers (synapomorphies), phylogenetic trees; conserved signature indels; Hematozoa; Piroplasmida; evolutionary relationships among Plasmodium subgenera Haemamoeba; Laverania; Vinckeia and Plasmodium genome sequences; molecular markers (synapomorphies), phylogenetic trees; conserved signature indels; Hematozoa; Piroplasmida; evolutionary relationships among Plasmodium subgenera Haemamoeba; Laverania; Vinckeia and Plasmodium
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sharma, R.; Gupta, R.S. Novel Molecular Synapomorphies Demarcate Different Main Groups/Subgroups of Plasmodium and Piroplasmida Species Clarifying Their Evolutionary Relationships. Genes 2019, 10, 490. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10070490

AMA Style

Sharma R, Gupta RS. Novel Molecular Synapomorphies Demarcate Different Main Groups/Subgroups of Plasmodium and Piroplasmida Species Clarifying Their Evolutionary Relationships. Genes. 2019; 10(7):490. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10070490

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sharma, Rahul, and Radhey S. Gupta. 2019. "Novel Molecular Synapomorphies Demarcate Different Main Groups/Subgroups of Plasmodium and Piroplasmida Species Clarifying Their Evolutionary Relationships" Genes 10, no. 7: 490. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10070490

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