Identification of geographically distributed sub-populations of Leishmania (Leishmania) major by microsatellite analysis

A. Al-Jawabreh, Stephanie Diezmann, M. Müller, T. Wirth, L.F. Schnur, M.V. Strelkova, D.A. Kovalenko, S.A. Razakov, J. Schwenkenbecher, K. Kuhls, G. Schönian

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Background. Leishmania (Leishmania) major, one of the agents causing cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) in humans, is widely distributed in the Old World where different species of wild rodent and phlebotomine sand fly serve as animal reservoir hosts and vectors, respectively. Despite this, strains of L. (L.) major isolated from many different sources over many years have proved to be relatively uniform. To investigate the population structure of the species highly polymorphic microsatellite markers were employed for greater discrimination among it's otherwise closely related strains, an approach applied successfully to other species of Leishmania. Results. Multilocus Microsatellite Typing (MLMT) based on 10 different microsatellite markers was applied to 106 strains of L. (L.) major from different regions where it is endemic. On applying a Bayesian model-based approach, three main populations were identified, corresponding to three separate geographical regions: Central Asia (CA); the Middle East (ME); and Africa (AF). This was congruent with phylogenetic reconstructions based on genetic distances. Re-analysis separated each of the populations into two sub-populations. The two African sub-populations did not correlate well with strains' geographical origin. Strains falling into the sub-populations CA and ME did mostly group according to their place of isolation although some anomalies were seen, probably, owing to human migration. Conclusion. The model- and distance-based analyses of the microsatellite data exposed three main populations of L. (L.) major, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa, each of which separated into two sub-populations. This probably correlates with the different species of rodent host.
Original languageEnglish
Article number183
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Evolutionary Biology
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2008


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