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Are eukaryotic microorganisms clonal or sexual? A population genetics vantage.

  • Tibayrenc, M
  • Kjellberg, F
  • Arnaud, J
  • Oury, B
  • Brenière, SF
  • Dardé, ML
  • Ayala, FJ
Publication Date
Jun 01, 1991
eScholarship - University of California
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We argue that the mode of reproduction of microorganisms in nature can only be decided by population genetic information. The evidence available indicates that many parasitic protozoa and unicellular fungi have clonal rather than sexual population structures, which has major consequences for medical research and practice. Plasmodium falciparum, the agent of malaria, is a special case: the scarce evidence available is contradictory, some suggesting that uniparental lineages may exist in nature. This is puzzling (because P. falciparum is known to have a sexual stage) and poses a challenge that can be readily settled by ascertaining the frequency distribution of genotypes in natural populations.

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