Plasmodium parasites of birds have the most AT-rich genes of eukaryotes

Elin Videvall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The genomic architecture of organisms, including nucleotide composition, can be highly variable, even among closely-related species. To better understand the causes leading to structural variation in genomes, information on distinct and diverse genomic features is needed. Malaria parasites are known for encompassing a wide range of genomic GC-content and it has long been thought that Plasmodium falciparum, the virulent malaria parasite of humans, has the most AT-biased eukaryotic genome. Here, I perform comparative genomic analyses of the most AT-rich eukaryotes sequenced to date, and show that the avian malaria parasites Plasmodium gallinaceum, P. ashfordi, and P. relictum have the most extreme coding sequences in terms of AT-bias. Their mean GC-content is 21.21, 21.22 and 21.60 %, respectively, which is considerably lower than the transcriptome of P. falciparum (23.79 %) and other eukaryotes. This information enables a better understanding of genome evolution and raises the question of how certain organisms are able to prosper despite severe compositional constraints.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobial Genomics
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 23

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Zoology
  • Genetics

Free keywords

  • GC-content
  • genome evolution
  • AT-bias


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