Toxoplasma gondii is among the most prevalent parasites worldwide, infecting many wild and domestic animals and causing zoonotic infections in humans. T. gondii differs substantially in its broad distribution from closely related parasites that typically have narrow, specialized host ranges. To elucidate the genetic basis for these differences, we compared the genomes of 62 globally distributed T. gondii isolates to several closely related coccidian parasites. Our findings reveal that tandem amplification and diversification of secretory pathogenesis determinants is the primary feature that distinguishes the closely related genomes of these biologically diverse parasites. We further show that the unusual population structure of T. gondii is characterized by clade-specific inheritance of large conserved haploblocks that are significantly enriched in tandemly clustered secretory pathogenesis determinants. The shared inheritance of these conserved haploblocks, which show a different ancestry than the genome as a whole, may thus influence transmission, host range and pathogenicity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)