Genetic crosses are most powerful for linkage analysis when progeny numbers are high, parental alleles segregate evenly and numbers of inbred progeny are minimized. We previously developed a novel genetic crossing platform for the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, an obligately sexual, hermaphroditic protozoan, using mice carrying human hepatocytes (the human liver-chimeric FRG NOD huHep mouse) as the vertebrate host. We report on two genetic crosses-(1) an allopatric cross between a laboratory-adapted parasite (NF54) of African origin and a recently patient-derived Asian parasite, and (2) a sympatric cross between two recently patient-derived Asian parasites. We generated 144 unique recombinant clones from the two crosses, doubling the number of unique recombinant progeny generated in the previous 30 years. The allopatric African/Asian cross has minimal levels of inbreeding and extreme segregation distortion, while in the sympatric Asian cross, inbred progeny predominate and parental alleles segregate evenly. Using simulations, we demonstrate that these progeny provide the power to map small-effect mutations and epistatic interactions. The segregation distortion in the allopatric cross slightly erodes power to detect linkage in several genome regions. We greatly increase the power and the precision to map biomedically important traits with these new large progeny panels.
Eck Institute for Global Health, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA. email@example.com.