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.falciparum, P.knowlesi, P.malariae, P.ovale, P.vivax, biology, malaria
Malaria is a vector-borne infection caused by unicellular parasite of the genus Plasmodium. Plasmodia are obligate intracellular parasites that in humans after a clinically silent replication phase in the liver are able to infect and replicate within the erythrocytes. Four species (P.falciparum, P.malariae, P.ovale and P.vivax) are traditionally recognized as responsible of natural infection in human beings but the recent upsurge of P.knowlesi malaria in South-East Asia has led clinicians to consider it as the fifth human malaria parasite. Recent studies in wild-living apes in Africa have revealed that P.falciparum, the most deadly form of human malaria, is not only human-host restricted as previously believed and its phylogenetic lineage is much more complex with new species identified in gorilla, bonobo and chimpanzee. Although less impressive, new data on biology of P.malariae, P.ovale and P.vivax are also emerging and will be briefly discussed in this review.
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