Identity-by-descent relatedness estimates with uncertainty characterise departure from isolation-by-distance between Plasmodium falciparum populations on the Colombian-Pacific coast

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Aimee R TaylorCaroline O Buckee


Characterising connectivity between geographically separated biological populations is a common goal in many fields. Recent approaches to understanding connectivity between malaria parasite populations, with implications for disease control efforts, have used estimates of relatedness based on identity-by-descent (IBD). However, uncertainty around estimated relatedness has not been accounted for to date. IBD-based relatedness estimates with uncertainty were computed for pairs of monoclonal Plasmodium falciparum samples collected from five cities on the Colombian-Pacific coast where long-term clonal propagation of P. falciparum is frequent. The cities include two official ports, Buenaventura and Tumaco, that are separated geographically but connected by frequent marine traffic. The fraction of highly-related sample pairs (whose classification accounts for uncertainty) was greater within cities versus between. However, based on both the fraction of highly-related sample pairs and on a threshold-free approach (Wasserstein distances between parasite populations) connectivity between Buenaventura and Tumaco was disproportionally high. Buenaventura-Tumaco connectivity was consistent with three separate transmission events involving pa...Continue Reading

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