Applying evolutionary genetics to schistosome epidemiology. Academic Article uri icon


  • We review how molecular markers and evolutionary analysis have been applied to the study of schistosome parasites, important pathogens that infect over 200 million people worldwide. Topics reviewed include phylogenetics and biogeography, hybridization, infection within snails, mating systems, and genetic structure. Some interesting generalizations include that schistosome species hybridize frequently and have switched definitive hosts repeatedly in evolutionary time. We show that molecular markers can be used to infer epidemiologically relevant processes such as spatial variation in transmission, or to reveal complex patterns of mate choice. Analysis of genetic structure data shows that transmission foci can be structured by watershed boundaries, habitat types, and host species. We also discuss sampling and analytical problems that arise when using larvae to estimate genetic parameters of adult schistosome populations. Finally, we review pitfalls in methodologies such as genotyping very small individuals, statistical methods for identifying clonemates or for identifying sibling groups, and estimating allele frequencies from pooled egg samples.

published proceedings

  • Infect Genet Evol

author list (cited authors)

  • Steinauer, M. L., Blouin, M. S., & Criscione, C. D.

citation count

  • 43

complete list of authors

  • Steinauer, Michelle L||Blouin, Michael S||Criscione, Charles D

publication date

  • May 2010