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Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2000 Jul-Aug;95(4):575-8.

Evidence for a neotropical origin of Leishmania.

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  • 1School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, UK.


Contradictory biogeographic hypotheses for either a Neotropical or a Palaearctic origin of the genus Leishmania have been proposed. Hypotheses constructed on the basis of biogeographic data must be tested against an independent dataset and cannot be supported by biogeographic data alone. In the absence of a fossil record for the Leishmania these two hypotheses were tested against a combined dataset of sequences from the DNA polymerase A catalytic subunit and the RNA polymerase II largest subunit. The phylogeny obtained provided considerable support for a Neotropical origin of the genus Leishmania and leads us to reject the hypothesis for a Palaearctic origin.

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