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  1. The unique biological features of Plasmodium vivax not only make it difficult to control but also to eliminate. For the transmission of the malaria parasite from infected human to the vector, gametocytes play a major role. The transmission potential of a malarial infection is inferred based on microscopic detection of gametocytes and molecular screening of genes in the female gametocytes. Microscopy-based detection methods could grossly underestimate the reservoirs of infection as gametocytes may occur as submicroscopic or as micro- or macro-gametocytes. The identification of genes that are highly expressed and polymorphic in male and female gametocytes is critical for monitoring changes not only in their relative proportions but also the composition of gametocyte clones contributing to transmission over time. Recent transcriptomic study revealed two distinct clusters of highly correlated genes expressed in the P. vivax gametocytes, indicating that the male and female terminal gametocytogeneses are independently regulated. However, the detective power of these genes is unclear. In this study, we compared genetic variations of 15 and 11 genes expressed, respectively, in the female and male gametocytes among P. vivax isolates from Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America. Further, we constructed phylogenetic trees to determine the resolution power and clustering patternsmore »of gametocyte clones. As expected, Pvs 25 (PVP01_0616100) and Pvs 16 (PVP01_0305600) expressed in the female gametocytes were highly conserved in all geographical isolates. In contrast, genes including 6-cysteine protein Pvs230 (PVP01_0415800) and upregulated in late gametocytes ULG8 (PVP01_1452800) expressed in the female gametocytes, as well as two CPW-WPC family proteins (PVP01_1215900 and PVP01_1320100) expressed in the male gametocytes indicated considerably high nucleotide and haplotype diversity among isolates. Parasite samples expressed in male and female gametocyte genes were observed in separate phylogenetic clusters and likely represented distinct gametocyte clones. Compared to Pvs 25, Pvs230 (PVP01_0415800) and a CPW-WPC family protein (PVP01_0904300) showed higher expression in a subset of Ethiopian P. vivax samples. Thus, Pvs230 , ULG8 , and CPW-WPC family proteins including PVP01_0904300, PVP01_1215900, and PVP01_1320100 could potentially be used as novel biomarkers for detecting both sexes of P. vivax gametocytes in low-density infections and estimating transmission reservoirs.« less
  2. Scorpions have evolved a variety of toxins with a plethora of biological targets, but characterizing their evolution has been limited by the lack of a comprehensive phylogenetic hypothesis of scorpion relationships grounded in modern, genome-scale datasets. Disagreements over scorpion higher-level systematics have also incurred challenges to previous interpretations of venom families as ancestral or derived. To redress these gaps, we assessed the phylogenomic relationships of scorpions using the most comprehensive taxonomic sampling to date. We surveyed genomic resources for the incidence of calcins (a type of calcium channel toxin), which were previously known only from 16 scorpion species. Here, we show that calcins are diverse, but phylogenetically restricted only to parvorder Iurida, one of the two basal branches of scorpions. The other branch of scorpions, Buthida, bear the related LKTx toxins (absent in Iurida), but lack calcins entirely. Analysis of sequences and molecular models demonstrates remarkable phylogenetic inertia within both calcins and LKTx genes. These results provide the first synapomorphies (shared derived traits) for the recently redefined clades Buthida and Iurida, constituting the only known case of such traits defined from the morphology of molecules.