We incorporate a representation of Plasmodium falciparum recombination within a discrete-event model of malaria transmission. We simulate the introduction of a new parasite genotype into a human population in which another genotype has reached equilibrium prevalence and compare the emergence and persistence of the novel recombinant forms under differing cross-reactivity relationships between the genotypes. Cross-reactivity between the parental (initial and introduced) genotypes reduces the frequency of appearance of recombinants within three years of introduction from 100% to 14%, and delays their appearance by more than a year, on average. Cross-reactivity between parental and recombinant genotypes reduces the frequency of appearance to 36% and increases the probability of recombinant extinction following appearance from 0% to 83%. When a recombinant is cross-reactive with its parental types, its probability of extinction is influenced by cross-reactivity between the parental types in the opposite manner; that is, its probability of extinction after appearance decreases. Frequencies of P. falciparum outcrossing are mediated by frequencies of mixed-genotype infections in the host population, which are in turn mediated by the structure of cross-reactivity between parasite genotypes. The three leading hypotheses about how meiosis relates to oocyst production lead to quantitative, but no qualitative, differences in these results.
Corresponding Editor: M. Riley