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Might Interspecific Interactions between Pathogens Drive Host Evolution? The Case of Plasmodium Species and Duffy-Negativity in Human Populations.

Abstract

Malarial infections have long been recognized as a driver of human evolution, as demonstrated by the influence of Plasmodium falciparum on sickle-cell anemia persistence. Duffy-negativity is another blood disorder thought to have been selected because it confers nearly complete resistance against Plasmodium vivax infection. Recent evidence suggests that the benefits of being Duffy-negative cannot be expected to play a strong selective pressure on humans, whereas its costs cannot be considered as negligible. Here, we suggest that the cross-talk between P. falciparum and P. vivax in coinfected children could represent the most parsimonious explanation of the frequency of Duffy-negativity. We discuss how this new hypothesis could be tested and call for a reconsideration of the evolution of the Duffy-negative group.

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