Molecular surveillance of Plasmodium falciparum drug resistance markers in clinical samples from Botswana

Leabaneng Tawe, Michela Menegon, Pleasure Ramatlho, Charles W. Muthoga, Naledi Mutukwa, Moses Vurayai, Wame Bothudile, Thato Motshoge, Mariangela L’Episcopia, Tjantilili Mosweunyane, Ishmael Kasvosve, Carlo Severini, Giacomo M. Paganotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum is a major threat to global malaria control and elimination efforts. In Botswana, a southern African country approaching malaria elimination, P. falciparum molecular data are not available. Parasites were assessed through pollymerase chain reaction (PCR) for confirmation of positive rapid diagnostic tests, multiplicity of infection (MOI), and drug resistance markers among isolates from clinical uncomplicated malaria cases collected at health facilities. Of 211 dried blood spot samples selected for the study, 186 (88.2%) were PCR positive for P. falciparum. The mean MOI based on MSP1 genotyping was 2.3 and was not associated with age. A high prevalence of wild-type parasites for pfcrt and pfmdr1 was found, with a haplotype frequency (K76/N86) of 88.8% and 17.7% of the isolates having two copies of the pfmdr1 gene. For pfATPase6, all the parasites carried the wild-type S769 allele. Sequencing showed no evidence of non-synonymous mutations associated with reduced artemisinin derivative sensitivity in the P. falciparum k13 gene. In conclusion, we found that P. falciparum parasites in Botswana were mostly wild type for the drug resistance markers evaluated. Yet, there was a high rate of a molecular marker associated to reduced sensitivity to lumefantrine. Our results indicate the need for systematic drug efficacy surveillance to complement malaria elimination efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1499-1503
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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