Just one cross appears capable of dramatically altering the population biology of a eukaryotic pathogen like Toxoplasma gondii

Jon P. Boyle, Badri Rajasekar, Jeroen Saeij, James W. Ajioka, Matthew Berriman, Ian Paulsen, David S. Roos, L. David Sibley, Michael W. White, John C. Boothroyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

98 Scopus citations

Abstract

Toxoplasma gondii, an obligate intracellular protozoan of the phylum Apicomplexa, is estimated to infect over a billion people worldwide as well as a great many other mammalian and avian hosts. Despite this ubiquity, the vast majority of human infections in Europe and North America are thought to be due to only three genotypes. Using a genome-wide analysis of single-nucleotide polymorphisms, we have constructed a genealogy for these three lines. The data indicate that types I and III are second- and first-generation offspring, respectively, of a cross between a type II strain and one of two ancestral strains. An extant T. gondii strain (P89) appears to be the modern descendant of the non-type II parent of type III, making the full genealogy of the type III clonotype known. The simplicity of this family tree demonstrates that even a single cross can lead to the emergence and dominance of a new clonal genotype that completely alters the population biology of a sexual pathogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10514-10519
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume103
Issue number27
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 4 2006
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Clonal population structure
  • Genetic recombination
  • Virulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General

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