Press release

Researchers probe lizard malaria parasites

Trust-funded researchers in Brazil have published the first description of the malaria species Plasmodium carmelinoi, which infects the Ameiva ameiva lizards common in South and Central America.

Professor Ralph Lainson, who led the research, says that as the parasite does not cause disease to its hosts, this suggests that the two have an ancient and well-balanced relationship. This contrasts to other Plasmodium species (such as P. falciparum, the most common cause of malaria in humans), which provoke a violent reaction in the host, often leading to disease and the death of both organisms. The researchers have encountered a wide variety of malarial parasites in a range of lizard species and have yet to find any evidence of disease.