Genetic diversity of Plasmodium falciparum populations in southeast and western Myanmar


Abstract Background The genetic diversity of malaria parasites reflects the complexity and size of the parasite populations. This study was designed to explore the genetic diversity of Plasmodium falciparum populations collected from two southeastern areas (Shwekyin and Myawaddy bordering Thailand) and one western area (Kyauktaw bordering Bangladesh) of Myanmar. Methods A total of 267 blood samples collected from patients with acute P. falciparum infections during 2009 and 2010 were used for genotyping at the merozoite surface protein 1 (Msp1), Msp2 and glutamate-rich protein (Glurp) loci. Results One hundred and eighty four samples were successfully genotyped at three genes. The allelic distributions of the three genes were all significantly different among three areas. MAD20 and 3D7 were the most prevalent alleles in three areas for Msp1 and Msp2, respectively. The Glurp allele with a bin size of 700–750 bp was the most prevalent both in Shwekyin and Myawaddy, whereas two alleles with bin sizes of 800–850 bp and 900–1000 bp were the most prevalent in the western site Kyauktaw. Overall, 73.91% of samples contained multiclonal infections, resulting in a mean multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 1.94. Interestingly, the MOI level presented a rising trend with the order of Myawaddy, Kyauktaw and Shwekyin, which also paralleled with the increasing frequencies of Msp1 RO33 and Msp2 FC27 200–250 bp alleles. Msp1 and Msp2 genes displayed higher levels of diversity and higher MOI rates than Glurp. PCR revealed four samples (two from Shwekyin and two from Myawaddy) with mixed infections of P. falciparum and P. vivax. Conclusions This study genotyped parasite clinical samples from two southeast regions and one western state of Myanmar at the Msp1, Msp2 and Glurp loci, which revealed high levels of genetic diversity and mixed-strain infections of P. falciparum populations at these sites. The results indicated that malaria transmission intensity in these regions remained high and more strengthened control efforts are needed. The genotypic data provided baseline information for monitoring the impacts of malaria elimination efforts in the region.

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