A Phylogenetic Meta-Analysis Of Human-Specific Parasites And Diseases To Elucidate Patterns Of Diversity and Evolution

Open Access
Battaglia, Angela Teresa
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • George Perry, Thesis Supervisor
  • Bernhard Luscher, Honors Advisor
  • parasite
  • phylogenetic
  • evolution
  • human migration
The evolutionary history of human parasites and pathogens is closely linked with the evolutionary history of humans. Using this knowledge, previous studies have analyzed the evolutionary patterns of these organisms to discover new or support existing human evolutionary patterns (Ashford et al., 2000; Pimenoff et al., 2017; Reed et al., 2004). However, previous research has yet to combine or compare these different parasite and pathogen analyses. In this study, specific mitochondrial or nuclear genes of nine different parasite or pathogen species (A. lumbricoides, C. hemipterus, D. folliculorum, HPV, H. pylori, P. capitis, P. humanus, T. asiatica, T. saginata) that have been previously linked to early human behavior or migration were compared with one another and with human mtDNA data. This comparison was conducted with the human data to test the null hypothesis that no novel inferences about ancient migration patterns can be made from this analysis. The results of this analysis were largely not able to reject the null hypothesis. Certain results, such as high parasite, pathogen, and human genomic diversity in the Americas, were not initially expected. However, this pattern was consistent with more recent known migratory patterns. One exception is the T. saginata data, which showed the highest level of parasite diversity in Europe, although the diversity patterns in its other geographic regions are consistent with known patterns. The high European diversity may have come from additional interactions of humans with archaic hominin species that were not previously considered.