Genetic diversity of Plasmodium falciparum and its relationship to parasite density in an area with different malaria endemicities in West Uganda


Gabriele Peyerl-Hoffmann Department of Infectious Disease and Tropical Medicine, Leopoldstrasse 5, 80802 München, Germany. Fax 00-49-89-336112; E-mail:


Field populations of Plasmodium falciparum can be effectively genotyped by PCR-amplification of selected fragments of the Merozoite Surface Proteins 1 and 2 (MSP1 and MSP2). Genetic diversity of P. falciparum populations in areas with different transmission levels (holo- vs. mesoendemic) was investigated in Kabarole District, West Uganda. 225 samples positive for P. falciparum were analysed by amplification of polymorphic regions and classified according to prevalence of allelic families. A large number of alleles was detected for each locus: 22 for MSP1 block 2 and 24 for MSP2 and, 175 (78%) of MSP1 alleles and 143 (64%) of MSP2 showed multiple infections within a range of 2–8 clones. Significant differences between holoendemic and mesoendemic areas in regards of population structure and number of multiclonal infections of P. falciparum were not apparent. However, a significant correlation between parasite density, selected MSP2 loci and differences between parasite density in monoclonal vs. multiclonal infections occurred. Multiplicity of infection was age-dependent.