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Publication Date


First Advisor

Laura A. Katz

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Biological Sciences


Biology, Bioinformatics, Genetics, Evolution


Eukaryotic parasites account for a significant portion of diseases in humans. With the rise of drug resistance, it is becoming more important than ever to understand trends in gene evolution to gain insight into pathogenicity and predict targets for vaccine development. Using novel bioinformatic tools, I aimed to create visual representations of the karyotypes of three species of eukaryotic parasites: Plasmodium vivax, the causative agent of malaria, Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of African sleeping sickness, and Leishmania mexicana, the causative agent of leishmaniasis. The results of my study show that karyotype evolution and host immune system evasion responses are relatively conserved across the Plasmodium genus. Additionally, it showed that although T. brucei and L. mexicana are members of the same order, their karyotypes varied tremendously, with T. brucei showing more constant levels of gene conservation and L. mexicana showing large, fast-evolving gene regions. Overall, this study demonstrated both the diversity and dynamic nature of eukaryotic karyotypes, as well as the effectiveness of two novel bioinformatic tools in elucidating trends of pathogenicity.


2020 Dana Ragooanan. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




47 pages : illustrations (some color) Includes bibliographical references (pages 43-45)