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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Apr;87(7):2414-8.

A clonal theory of parasitic protozoa: the population structures of Entamoeba, Giardia, Leishmania, Naegleria, Plasmodium, Trichomonas, and Trypanosoma and their medical and taxonomical consequences.

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Laboratoire de Génétique des Parasites et des Vecteurs, Institute Français de Recherche pour le Développement en Coopération, Montpellier, France.

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  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1990 Oct;87(20):8185.


We propose a general theory of clonal reproduction for parasitic protozoa, which has important medical and biological consequences. Many parasitic protozoa have been assumed to reproduce sexually, because of diploidy and occasional sexuality in the laboratory. However, a population genetic analysis of extensive data on biochemical polymorphisms indicates that the two fundamental consequences of sexual reproduction (i.e., segregation and recombination) are apparently rare or absent in natural populations of the parasitic protozoa. Moreover, the clones recorded appear to be stable over large geographical areas and long periods of time. A clonal population structure demands that the medical attributes of clones be separately characterized; ubiquitous clones call for priority characterization. Uniparental reproduction renders unsatisfactory Linnean taxonomy; this needs to be supplemented by the "natural clone" as an additional taxonomic unit, which is best defined by means of genetic markers.

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