Dr. Malla Rao
Deputy Branch Chief
Parasitology and International Programs Branch
Principal Investigator: Jane Carlton, Ph.D.
Lead Institution: Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, Department of Biology, New York University, New York
The India ICEMR will explore the analysis of mixed-species and mixed-genotype infections generated by the two predominant human malaria species in India, Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax. The research team will also study how such infections influence disease outcome, vector transmission and drug resistance.
Malaria is a significant public health burden in India. The India ICEMR will use cutting-edge genomics technology in an attempt to find better ways to diagnose and treat patients with resistant malaria parasites.
Both the parasite and vector are sensitive to mean ambient temperatures and daily temperature variation. Temperature is estimated typically using data from weather stations. But is this approach sufficient to characterize the temperatures experienced by mosquitoes in local transmission settings? The India ICEMR has been investigating this question by placing temperature data loggers across a range of indoor and outdoor environments representative of mosquito resting habitats. The research is revealing that the standard estimates of environmental temperature do not necessarily provide realistic measures of temperatures within actual transmission environments. Even small differences in mean temperatures or diurnal temperature ranges can lead to large variations in key mosquito and/or parasite life history traits that determine transmission intensity. The research highlights a need to better quantify adult mosquito resting behaviour and determine the temperatures actually experienced by mosquitoes and parasites in local transmission environments. For more information see Malaria Journal 2013, 12:84 .
The malaria parasite is a genetically diverse organism and characterizing this genetic diversity and the population structure it may give rise to in different regions of the world is important for developing better tools for control measures. Previous studies utilizing whole genome sequencing have not included samples from the Indian subcontinent, and our studies as part of the CSCMi aim to rectify this situation. We sequenced the first P. vivax and P. falciparum whom genomes from India, and compared them with several other isolates of the two species from around the globe. Astonishingly, we found that P. vivax exhibits twice as much genetic diversity between strains compared to a set of P. falciparum isolates from similar geographical areas. This extensive polymorphism indicates that P. vivax will be the more difficult species to eradicate in the long-term. We are following-up these initial studies with more extensive sequencing of P. vivax as part of this Indian ICEMR. For more information see Nature Genetics 2012, 44: 1046
Last Updated February 07, 2012
Last Reviewed April 05, 2011