27 Mar 2016

Malaria 1st spread from birds

HIGHLIGHTS
• Researchers took blood samples from hundreds of East African birds, bats, and other mammals and screened the blood for the parasites. When they found malaria, they took samples of the parasites' DNA and sequenced it to identify mutations in the genetic code.
Malaria 1st spread from birds (Getty Images)

Malaria started out as a parasite in birds, then evolved to colonise bats, and from there spread to other mammals, a study on the evolution of the parasite has found. "We cannot begin to understand how malaria spread to humans until we understand its evolutionary history. In learning about its past, we may be better able to understand the effects it has on us," said Holly Lutz from Cornell University in the US.
Researchers took blood samples from hundreds of East African birds, bats, and other mammals and screened the blood for the parasites. When they found malaria, they took samples of the parasites' DNA and sequenced it to identify mutations in the genetic code.

The analysis showed that malaria has its roots in bird hosts, from which it spread to bats, and then on to other mammals. The findings were published in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.
Source - times of india

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