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Mol Ecol. 2011 Aug;20(15):3116-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05162.x. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

Reproductive strategies and population structure in Leishmania: substantial amount of sex in Leishmania Viannia guyanensis.

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Laboratoire MIVEGEC (UMR IRD 224-CNRS 5290-Université Montpellier 1) Montpellier, France.


Leishmania species of the subgenus Viannia and especially Leishmania Viannia guyanensis are responsible for a large proportion of New World leishmaniasis cases. Since a recent publication on Leishmania Viannia braziliensis, the debate on the mode of reproduction of Leishmania parasites has been reopened. A predominant endogamic reproductive mode (mating with relatives), together with strong Wahlund effects (sampling of strains from heterogeneous subpopulations), was indeed evidenced. To determine whether this hypothesis can be generalized to other Leishmania Viannia species, we performed a population genetic study on 153 human strains of L. (V.) guyanensis from French Guiana based on 12 microsatellite loci. The results revealed important homozygosity and very modest linkage disequilibrium, which is in agreement with a high level of sexual recombination and substantial endogamy. These results also revealed a significant isolation by distance with relatively small neighbourhoods and hence substantial viscosity of Leishmania populations in French Guiana. These results are of epidemiological relevance and suggest a major role for natural hosts and/or vectors in parasite strain diffusion across the country as compared to human hosts.

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