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Exploring Genetic Variation at the Duffy Gene and Infection Prevalence of Hepatocystis, a Malaria-Like Parasite, in Wild Baboon Species.

Semester: Summer 2023

Presentation description

Hepatocystis parasites are closely related to malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites and infect various primate species across different geographic regions. However, little is known about their invasion mechanisms, evolutionary history, and host specificity in non-human primates. This study aims to investigate the association between genetic variation in the malaria-protective gene, ACKR1, and Hepatocystis infection in wild baboons. The research aims to explore genetic factors contributing to Hepatocystis susceptibility and transmission dynamics in non-human primate populations. A publicly available dataset of approximately 500 wild baboon samples with whole-genome sequencing was used to identify Hepatocystis infections. Computational tools, including Kraken, BWA-MEM, and Mosdepth, were employed for parasite read classification and mapping and Hepatocystis mitochondrial-to-nuclear read ratios analysis. Approximately 300 baboons were found to be infected by read classification, with a mean coverage ratio of mitochondria to the nuclear genome of 32.59. The baboon ACKR1 gene was identified by mapping it to the human ACKR1 ortholog. Genotype likelihoods will be calculated using the ANGSD program to test for associations between Hepatocystis infections and genetic variation in ACKR1. The findings of this study are expected to significantly advance our understanding of Hepatocystis parasites and contribute to the field of parasitology and host-pathogen interactions. Given the evolutionary similarities between Hepatocystis and Plasmodium, uncovering the mechanisms of Hepatocystis infections can provide valuable knowledge for developing innovative techniques to understand malaria and improve human health.

Presenter Name: Anayansi Ramirez
Presentation Type: Poster
Presentation Format: In Person
Presentation #102
College: Medicine
School / Department: Human Genetics
Research Mentor: Ellen Leffler
Date | Time: Thursday, Aug 3rd | 10:30 AM