Abstract Title

Detection and Quantitation of Parasite DNA Extracted from Host Samples: Implications for Genetic Tracking of Parasitic Strains

Additional Funding Sources

The project described was supported by a student grant from the UI Office of Undergraduate Research, the NSF Idaho EPSCoR Program, the National Science Foundation under Award No. OIA-1757324, and LSAMP - College of Southern Idaho.

Abstract

Parasites in the genus Plasmodium are single celled organisms that spend a portion of their life cycle inhabiting a blood feeding insect such as a mosquito. These parasites are the cause of the common human disease malaria which is the leading cause of disease borne mortality in most years (COVID19 deaths surpassed malaria in 2020 and likely will again in 2021). Plasmodium infections in humans are easily diagnosed by examination of a blood smear under a microscope. However, the tracking of particular parasite strains and their insect vectors is fundamental to prevention of disease outbreaks. Parasitic strains can be tracked using DNA sequence variations that can be captured using various molecular biology methods. In this study, we quantify the relative abundance of parasitic DNA to host DNA in extracts taken from infected individuals using quantitative PCR (qPCR). We then compare our results with the success or failure to capture parasite-specific DNA sequences using a custom designed plasmodium genotyping panel.

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Detection and Quantitation of Parasite DNA Extracted from Host Samples: Implications for Genetic Tracking of Parasitic Strains

Parasites in the genus Plasmodium are single celled organisms that spend a portion of their life cycle inhabiting a blood feeding insect such as a mosquito. These parasites are the cause of the common human disease malaria which is the leading cause of disease borne mortality in most years (COVID19 deaths surpassed malaria in 2020 and likely will again in 2021). Plasmodium infections in humans are easily diagnosed by examination of a blood smear under a microscope. However, the tracking of particular parasite strains and their insect vectors is fundamental to prevention of disease outbreaks. Parasitic strains can be tracked using DNA sequence variations that can be captured using various molecular biology methods. In this study, we quantify the relative abundance of parasitic DNA to host DNA in extracts taken from infected individuals using quantitative PCR (qPCR). We then compare our results with the success or failure to capture parasite-specific DNA sequences using a custom designed plasmodium genotyping panel.