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Previous microsatellite analyses of sympatric populations of Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum in Brazil revealed higher diversity in the former species. However, it remains unclear whether regional species-specific differences in prevalence and transmission levels might account for these findings. Here, we examine sympatric populations of P. vivax (n=87) and P. falciparum (n=164) parasites from Pursat province, Western Cambodia, where both species are similarly prevalent. Using 10 genome-wide microsatellites for P. falciparum and 13 for P. vivax, we found that the P. vivax population was more diverse than the sympatric P. falciparum population (average virtual heterozygosity [HE], 0.87 vs. 0.66, P=0.003), with more multiple-clone infections (89.6% vs. 47.6%) and larger mean number of alleles per marker (16.2 vs. 11.1, P=0.07). Both populations showed significant multi-locus linkage disequilibrium suggestive of a predominantly clonal mode of parasite reproduction. The higher microsatellite diversity found in P. vivax isolates, compared to sympatric P. falciparum isolates, does not necessarily result from local differences in transmission level and may reflect differences in population history between species or increased mutation rates in P. vivax.

Original publication





Experimental parasitology

Publication Date





318 - 326


Department of Parasitology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.


Animals, Humans, Anopheles, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Malaria, Falciparum, Malaria, Vivax, Genetic Markers, Prevalence, Insect Vectors, Species Specificity, Microsatellite Repeats, Gene Frequency, Haplotypes, Linkage Disequilibrium, Cambodia, Female, Male, Genetic Variation, Sympatry