Malaria's ability to share genetic variations determined

A parasite that causes the most common form of malaria to share the same genetic variations, even when separated across continents, has been discovered by scientists at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute.

Concerns arose following the discovery that mutations that could cause resistance to existing medications could spread worldwide and make global eradication efforts even more difficult, reports.

The researchers are the first to sequence the Plasmodium vivax parasite's genome, which contains all of the organism's inheritable information.

The scientists reported that they were surprised to find little genetic variation specific to different locations in their samples, according to

"The parasite's life cycle enables P. vivax to be a microbial globe-trotter," Peter Zimmerman, a professor of international health, genetics and biology in the Center for Global Health and Diseases at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, said, reports.

After recovering from malaria, Zimmerman said, a portion of the disease's infectious form can stay in the liver, laying dormant before re-emerging in the blood when a person travels to a new place.

"In that new place, local mosquitoes bite, become infected, and start spreading the P. vivax parasite and its genome in locations that can be a long distance away from where the original human infection occurred," Zimmerman said, according to