MBio. 2012 Jan 3;3(1). pii: e00284-11. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00284-11. Print 2012.
A Single Chromosome Unexpectedly Links Highly Divergent Isolates of Toxoplasma gondii.
Walzer KA, Boyle JP.
Department of Biological Sciences, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
ABSTRACT Toxoplasma gondii is an obligate intracellular parasite that can cause disease in all warm-blooded animals studied to date, including humans. Over a billion people have been infected with this parasite worldwide. In Europe and North America, Toxoplasma has a clonal population structure, where only three lineages are highly dominant (strain types I, II, and III). Khan et al. [mBio 2(6): e00228-11, 2011] have carried out phylogenetic analyses on a large number of diverse strains from outside of these lineages and found evidence for a significant split between the clonal North American/European lineages and those in South America. In contrast to most of the genome, nearly all North American/European strains sampled, and the majority of South American strains sampled, harbored at least portions of a monomorphic chromosome Ia (Ia*). In contrast to previous models, these data suggest that the monomorphic haplotype originated in South America and migrated to the North. These authors propose that South American haplotype 12 was a precursor to modern-day type II, while South American haplotypes 6 and 9 crossed with haplotype 12 to give rise to the type I and III lineages, respectively. However, the findings reported by Khan et al. complicate the origin of chromosome Ia, since there are members of haplotypes 9 and 12 with nearly complete versions of Ia* and members of haplotypes 6 and 12 with over 50% of Ia*. This unexpected finding raises exciting new questions about how an entire common chromosome can be found within strains that are highly divergent at most other genomic loci.
PMID: 22215568 [PubMed - in process]