Competition between Plasmodium falciparum strains in clinical infections during in vitro culture adaptation

Kexuan Chen, Ling Sun, Yingxue Lin, Qi Fan, Zhenjun Zhao, Mingming Hao, Guohua Feng, Yanrui Wu, Liwang Cui, Zhaoqing Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We evaluated the dynamics of parasite populations during in vitro culture adaptation in 15 mixed Plasmodium falciparum infections, which were collected from a hypoendemic area near the China-Myanmar border. Allele types at the msp1 block 2 in the initial clinical samples and during subsequent culture were quantified weekly using a quantitative PCR method. All mixed infections carried two allele types based on the msp1 genotyping result. We also genotyped several polymorphic sites in the dhfr, dhps and mdr1 genes on day 0 and day 28, which showed that most of the common sites analyzed were monomorphic. Two of the three clinical samples mixed at dhps 581 remained stable while one changed to wild-type during the culture. During in vitro culture, we observed a gradual loss of parasite populations with 10 of the 15 mixed infections becoming monoclonal by day 28 based on the msp1 allele type. In most cases, the more abundant msp1 allele types in the clinical blood samples at the beginning of culture became the sole or predominant allele types on day 28. These results suggest that some parasites may have growth advantages and the loss of parasite populations during culture adaptation of mixed infections may lead to biased results when comparing the phenotypes such as drug sensitivity of the culture-adapted parasites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-110
Number of pages6
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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