Human head and body lice have been classified into three phylogenetic clades (Clades A, B, and C) based on mitochondrial DNA. Based on nuclear markers (the 18S rRNA gene and the PM2 spacer), two genotypes of Clade A head and body lice, including one that is specifically African (Clade A2), have been described. In this study, we sequenced the PM2 spacer of Clade C head lice from Ethiopia and compared these sequences with sequences from previous works. Trees were drawn, and an analysis of genetic diversity based on the cytochrome b gene and the PM2 spacer was performed for African and non-African lice. In the tree drawn based on the PM2 spacer, the African and non-African lice formed separate clusters. However, Clade C lice from Ethiopia were placed within the African Clade A subcluster (Clade A2). This result suggests that recombination events have occurred between Clade A2 lice and Clade C lice, reflecting the sympatric nature of African lice. Finally, the PM2 spacer and cytochrome b gene sequences of human lice revealed a higher level of genetic diversity in Africa than in other regions.
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Vol. 50 • No. 5