The diversity of the genes encoding 2 merozoite surface proteins (MSP-1 and IV1SP-2) of Plasmodium falciparum has been examined in parasites infecting members of 4 households in a village in Tanzania. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to characterize allelic variants of these genes by the sizes and sequences of regions of tandemly repeated bases in each gene. In each household extensive polymorphism was detected among parasites in the inhabitants and in infected mosquitoes caught in their houses. Similar frequencies of the alleles of these genes were observed in all households. Capture-recapture data indicated that both Anopheles gambiae and A. funestus freely dispersed among households in the hamlet. The results confirm that cross-mating and gene flow occur extensively among the parasites, and are discussed within the context of spatial clustering of natural populations of P. falciparum.
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