Genetic diversity, multiplicity of infection and population structure of Schistosoma mansoni isolates from human hosts in Ethiopia
A recently developed high-throughput technique that allows multi-locus microsatellite analysis of individual miracidia of Schistosoma mansoni was used to assess the levels of genetic diversity and population structure in 12 infrapopulations of the parasite, each infrapopulation derived from an infected school child from the Mwea area, central Kenya. The mean number of alleles per locus was in the range 8.22-10.22, expected heterozygosity in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium was 0.68-0.70, and pairwise F(ST) values ranged from 0.16% to 3.98% for the 12 infrapopulations. Although the genetic diversity within each infrapopulation of S. mansoni in this area was generally high, low levels of genetic structure were observed, suggestive of high levels of gene flow among infrapopulations. Private alleles were found in 8 of the 12 infrapopulation, the highest number of private alleles recorded per infrapopulation was 3. Our data suggest that the level of gene flow among infrapopulations of S. mansoni in Mwea is extremely high, thus providing opportunity for spread of rare alleles, including those that may confer character traits such as drug resistance and virulence.