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Modeling the spatio-temporal dynamics of malaria parasite population genetics

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A model of malaria transmission dynamics is presented that tracks the genetic barcodes of individual Plasmodium falciparum infections using seasonally-driven effective reproduction rates for clonal propagation, external importation, and the outcrossing of strains both within and between infections. We explore quantitatively the relationship between transmission intensity and genetic observations, for example the repeated observation of identical strains and their persistence across successive transmission seasons. Extending to a spatially connected network of human and parasite populations, we model the sensitivity of genetic sequencing to identify the relative contributions of local hotspots versus re-importation in sustaining transmission in pre-elimination settings. Finally, we model the effects of local transmission intensity and anti-malarial drug pressure on the population-level genetic signatures of emerging drug resistance.

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Correspondence to Edward Wenger.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Wenger, E., Proctor, J. & Eckhoff, P. Modeling the spatio-temporal dynamics of malaria parasite population genetics. Malar J 13, O17 (2014) doi:10.1186/1475-2875-13-S1-O17

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  • Malaria
  • Malaria Parasite
  • Plasmodium Falciparum
  • Malaria Transmission
  • Transmission Intensity


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