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J Parasitol. 1995 Jun;81(3):395-403.

Microevolution and the genetic structure of parasite populations.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb 60115-2861, USA.


The development of polymerase chain reaction-based methods for assessing the genotypes of small individual organisms will promote groundbreaking investigations of the genetic architecture of parasite populations. Both quantitative genetic models and general knowledge of parasite natural history are useful for making general predictions about the distribution of genetic variation over geographic space. However, designing experimental studies to assess relationships between specific life history variables and patterns of genetic structure in natural populations will be challenging. Traditional biochemical-genetic methods have already been used to study a limited number of parasite populations, and inferred patterns of genetic structure are distinctly different between certain species. Some of these differences in genetic architecture may be explained by parasite or host factors that either promote or retard the dissemination of life cycle stages over geographic space. Many additional empirical studies are needed to characterize basic features of parasite populations, including the spatial distribution and group size of random mating populations and levels of gene flow among parasite subpopulations.

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