22 Facts About Plasmodium


Plasmodium is a genus of unicellular eukaryotes that are obligate parasites of vertebrates and insects.

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The life cycles of Plasmodium species involve development in a blood-feeding insect host which then injects parasites into a vertebrate host during a blood meal.

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Plasmodium is a member of the phylum Apicomplexa, a large group of parasitic eukaryotes.

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Over 200 species of Plasmodium have been described, many of which have been subdivided into 14 subgenera based on parasite morphology and host range.

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Evolutionary relationships among different Plasmodium species do not always follow taxonomic boundaries; some species that are morphologically similar or infect the same host turn out to be distantly related.

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Species of Plasmodium are distributed globally wherever suitable hosts are found.

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Plasmodium parasites were first identified in the late 19th century by Charles Laveran.

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Plasmodium species contain many features that are common to other eukaryotes, and some that are unique to their phylum or genus.

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The Plasmodium genome is separated into 14 chromosomes contained in the nucleus.

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Species of Plasmodium contain two large membrane-bound organelles of endosymbiotic origin, the mitochondrion and the apicoplast, both of which play key roles in the parasite's metabolism.

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Unlike mammalian cells which contain many mitochondria, Plasmodium cells contain a single large mitochondrion that coordinates its division with that of the Plasmodium cell.

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Life cycle of Plasmodium involves several distinct stages in the insect and vertebrate hosts.

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Plasmodium belongs to the phylum Apicomplexa, a taxonomic group of single-celled parasites with characteristic secretory organelles at one end of the cell.

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However, later studies sampling more Plasmodium species found the parasites of mammals to form a clade along with the genus Hepatocystis, while the parasites of birds or lizards appear to form a separate clade with evolutionary relationships not following the subgenera:.

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All Plasmodium species are parasitic and must pass between a vertebrate host and an insect host to complete their life cycles.

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Plasmodium parasites have been described in a broad array of vertebrate hosts including reptiles, birds, and mammals.

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Unlike with Plasmodium species infecting mammals, those infecting birds are distributed across the globe.

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Plasmodium parasites have been described in most lizard families and, like avian parasites, are spread worldwide.

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Sometimes, insects infected with Plasmodium have reduced lifespan and reduced ability to produce offspring.

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Further, some species of Plasmodium appear to cause insects to prefer to bite infected vertebrate hosts over non-infected hosts.

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Plasmodium was first identified when Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran described parasites in the blood of malaria patients in 1880.

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In 1885, zoologists Ettore Marchiafava and Angelo Celli reexamined the parasite and termed it a member of a new genus, Plasmodium, named for the resemblance to the multinucleate cells of slime molds of the same name.

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