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Volume 50, Number 5, October 2017

Two sympatric types of Plasmodium ovale and discrimination by molecular methods 

Myo Thura Zaw, Zaw Lin


Corresponding author:

Zaw Lin,
Corresponding author. Department of Pathobiological and Medical Diagnostics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. 


Background and purpose: 

Plasmodium ovale is widely distributed in tropical countries, whereas it has not been reported in the Americas. It is not a problem globally because it is rarely detected by microscopy owing to low parasite density, which is a feature of clinical ovale malaria. P.o. curtisi and P.o. wallikeri are widespread in both Africa and Asia, and were known to be sympatric in many African countries and in southeast Asian countries. Small subunit ribosomal RNA (SSUrRNA) gene, cytochrome b (cytb) gene, and merozoite surface protein-1 (msp-1) gene were initially studied for molecular discrimination of P.o. curtisi and P.o. wallikeri using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and DNA sequencing. DNA sequences of other genes from P. ovale in Southeast Asia and the southwestern Pacific regions were also targeted to differentiate the two sympatric types. In terms of clinical manifestations, P.o. wallikeri tended to produce higher parasitemia levels and more severe symptoms. To date, there have been a few studies that used the quantitative PCR method for discrimination of the two distinct P. ovale types. Conventional PCR with consequent DNA sequencing is the common method used to differentiate these two types. It is necessary to identify these two types because relapse periodicity, drug susceptibility, and mosquito species preference need to be studied to reduce ovale malaria. In this article, an easier method of molecular-level discrimination of P.o. curtisi and P.o. wallikeri is proposed. 


Key words:

molecular discrimination, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium ovale curtisi, Plasmodium ovale wallikeri, sympatric