Published: January 21, 2019
The Horn of Africa harbors the largest reservoir of Plasmodium vivax in the continent. Most of sub-Saharan Africa has remained relatively vivax-free due to a high prevalence of the human Duffy-negative trait, but the emergence of strains able to invade Duffy-negative reticulocytes poses a major public health threat. We undertook the first population genomic investigation of P. vivax from the region, comparing the genomes of 24 Ethiopian isolates against data from Southeast Asia to identify important local adaptions. The prevalence of the Duffy binding protein amplification in Ethiopia was 79%, potentially reflecting adaptation to Duffy negativity. There was also evidence of selection in a region upstream of the chloroquine resistance transporter, a putative chloroquine-resistance determinant. Strong signals of selection were observed in genes involved in immune evasion and regulation of gene expression, highlighting the need for a multifaceted intervention approach to combat P. vivax in the region.