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Data from: Phylogeny of haemosporidian blood parasites revealed by a multi-gene approach

Cite this dataset

Borner, Janus et al. (2016). Data from: Phylogeny of haemosporidian blood parasites revealed by a multi-gene approach [Dataset]. Dryad.


The apicomplexan order Haemosporida is a clade of unicellular blood parasites that infect a variety of reptilian, avian and mammalian hosts. Among them are the agents of human malaria, parasites of the genus Plasmodium, which pose a major threat to human health. Illuminating the evolutionary history of Haemosporida may help us in understanding their enormous biological diversity, as well as tracing the multiple host switches and associated acquisitions of novel life-history traits. However, the deep-level phylogenetic relationships among major haemosporidian clades have remained enigmatic because the datasets employed in phylogenetic analyses were severely limited in either gene coverage or taxon sampling. Using a PCR-based approach that employs a novel set of primers, we sequenced fragments of 21 nuclear genes from seven haemosporidian parasites of the genera Leucocytozoon, Haemoproteus, Parahaemoproteus, Polychromophilus and Plasmodium. After addition of genomic data from 25 apicomplexan species, the unreduced alignment comprised 20,580 bp from 32 species. Phylogenetic analyses were performed based on nucleotide, codon and amino acid data employing Bayesian inference, maximum likelihood and maximum parsimony. All analyses resulted in highly congruent topologies. We found consistent support for a basal position of Leucocytozoon within Haemosporida. In contrast to all previous studies, we recovered a sister group relationship between the genera Polychromophilus and Plasmodium. Within Plasmodium, the sauropsid and mammal-infecting lineages were recovered as sister clades. Support for these relationships was high in nearly all trees, revealing a novel phylogeny of Haemosporida, which is robust to the choice of the outgroup and the method of tree inference.

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