Mobegi is a Lecturer at the department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine in the University of Nairobi. He graduated in 2014 with a PhD from University of London, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. His PhD training was supported by Medical Research Council (UK). His PhD research focused on genome-wide analysis of Plasmodium falciparum to identify signatures of natural selection.

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Amato, R, Miotto O, Woodrow C, Almagro-Garcia J, Sinha I, Campino S, Mead D, Drury E, Kekre M, Sanders M, Amambua-Ngwa A, Amaratunga C, Amenga-Etego L, Anderson TJC, Andrianaranjaka V, Apinjoh T, Ashley E, Auburn S, Awandare GA, Baraka V, Barry A, Boni MF, Borrmann S, Teun Bousema, Branch O, Bull PC, Chotivanich K, Conway DJ, Craig A, Day NP, Djimdé A, Dolecek C, Dondorp AM, Drakeley C, Duffy P, Echeverri-Garcia DF, Egwang TG, Fairhurst RM, Faiz MA, Fanello CI, Hien TT, Hodgson A, Imwong M, Ishengoma D, Lim P, Lon C, Marfurt J, Marsh K, Mayxay M, Mobegi V, Mokuolu O, Montgomery J, Mueller I, Kyaw MP, Newton PN, Nosten F, Noviyanti R, Nzila A, Ocholla H, Oduro A, Onyamboko M, Ouedraogo J-B, Phyo AP, Plowe CV, Price RN, Pukrittayakamee S, Randrianarivelojosia M, Ringwald P, Ruiz L, Saunders D, Shayo A, Siba P, Takala-Harrison S, Thanh T-NN, Thathy V, Verra F, White NJ, Htut Y, Cornelius VJ, Giacomantonio R, Muddyman D, Henrichs C, Malangone C, Jyothi D, Pearson RD, Rayner JC, McVean G, Rockett K, Miles A, Vauterin P, Jeffery B, Manske M, Stalker J, MacInnis B, Kwiatkowski DP,, J.N Kiiru.  2015.  Genomic epidemiology of the current wave of artemisinin resistant malaria, 2015/05/24. bioRxiv. AbstractWebsite

Artemisinin resistant Plasmodium falciparum is advancing across Southeast Asia in a soft selective sweep involving at least 20 independent kelch13 mutations. In a large global survey, we find that kelch13 mutations which cause resistance in Southeast Asia are present at low frequency in Africa. We show that African kelch13 mutations have originated locally, and that kelch13 shows a normal variation pattern relative to other genes in Africa, whereas in Southeast Asia there is a great excess of non‐synonymous mutations, many of which cause radical amino‐acid changes. Thus, kelch13 is not currently undergoing strong selection in Africa, despite a deep reservoir of standing variation that could potentially allow resistance to emerge rapidly. The practical implications are that public health surveillance for artemisinin resistance should not rely on kelch13 data alone, and interventions to prevent resistance must account for local evolutionary conditions, shown by genomic epidemiology to differ greatly between geographical regions.


Mobegi, VA, Duffy CW, Amambua-Ngwa A, Loua KM, Laman E, Nwakanma DC, MacInnis B, Aspeling-Jones H, Murray L, Clark TG, Kwiatkowski DP, Conway DJ.  2014.  Genome-wide analysis of selection on the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum in West African populations of differing infection endemicity., 2014 Jun. Molecular biology and evolution. 31(6):1490-9. Abstract

Locally varying selection on pathogens may be due to differences in drug pressure, host immunity, transmission opportunities between hosts, or the intensity of between-genotype competition within hosts. Highly recombining populations of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum throughout West Africa are closely related, as gene flow is relatively unrestricted in this endemic region, but markedly varying ecology and transmission intensity should cause distinct local selective pressures. Genome-wide analysis of sequence variation was undertaken on a sample of 100 P. falciparum clinical isolates from a highly endemic region of the Republic of Guinea where transmission occurs for most of each year and compared with data from 52 clinical isolates from a previously sampled population from The Gambia, where there is relatively limited seasonal malaria transmission. Paired-end short-read sequences were mapped against the 3D7 P. falciparum reference genome sequence, and data on 136,144 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were obtained. Within-population analyses identifying loci showing evidence of recent positive directional selection and balancing selection confirm that antimalarial drugs and host immunity have been major selective agents. Many of the signatures of recent directional selection reflected by standardized integrated haplotype scores were population specific, including differences at drug resistance loci due to historically different antimalarial use between the countries. In contrast, both populations showed a similar set of loci likely to be under balancing selection as indicated by very high Tajima's D values, including a significant overrepresentation of genes expressed at the merozoite stage that invades erythrocytes and several previously validated targets of acquired immunity. Between-population FST analysis identified exceptional differentiation of allele frequencies at a small number of loci, most markedly for five SNPs covering a 15-kb region within and flanking the gdv1 gene that regulates the early stages of gametocyte development, which is likely related to the extreme differences in mosquito vector abundance and seasonality that determine the transmission opportunities for the sexual stage of the parasite.


Mobegi, VA, Loua KM, Ahouidi AD, Satoguina J, Nwakanma DC, Amambua-Ngwa A, Conway DJ.  2012.  Population genetic structure of Plasmodium falciparum across a region of diverse endemicity in West Africa., 2012. Malaria journal. 11:223. Abstract

Malaria parasite population genetic structure varies among areas of differing endemicity, but this has not been systematically studied across Plasmodium falciparum populations in Africa where most infections occur.


Mwacharo, JM, Bjørnstad G, Mobegi V, Nomura K, Hanada H, Amano T, Jianlin H, Hanotte O.  2011.  Mitochondrial DNA reveals multiple introductions of domestic chicken in East Africa., 2011 Feb. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution. 58(2):374-82. Abstract

Chicken were possibly domesticated in South and Southeast Asia. They occur ubiquitously in East Africa where they show extensive phenotypic diversity. They appeared in the region relatively late, with the first undisputed evidence of domestic chicken in Sudan, around ~ 700 BC. We reveal through a detailed analysis of mitochondrial DNA D-loop sequence diversity of 512 domestic village chickens, from four East African countries (Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda), the presence of at least five distinct mitochondrial DNA haplogroups. Phylogeographic analyses and inclusion of reference sequences from Asia allow us to address the origin, ways of introduction and dispersion of each haplogroup. The results indicate a likely Indian subcontinent origin for the commonest haplogroup (D) and a maritime introduction for the next commonest one (A) from Southeast and/or East Asia. Recent introgression of commercial haplotypes into the gene pool of village chickens might explain the rare presence of two haplogroups (B and C) while the origin of the last haplogroup (E) remains unclear being currently observed only outside the African continent in the inland Yunnan Province of China. Our findings not only support ancient historical maritime and terrestrial contacts between Asia and East Africa, but also indicate the presence of large maternal genetic diversity in the region which could potentially support genetic improvement programmes.


Makanjuolal, B, Afolayanl O, Bjrzrnstadz G, Jianlin H, Hanottel O.  2010.  Lack of phylogeographic structure in Nigerian village chickens revealed by mitochondrial DNA D-loop sequence analysis. International Journal of Poultry Science. 9:503–507., Number 5 Abstract
Revay, T, Bodzsar N, Mobegi VE, Hanotte O, Hidas A.  2010.  Origin of Hungarian indigenous chicken breeds inferred from mitochondrial DNA D-loop sequences., 2010 Oct. Animal genetics. 41(5):548-50. Abstract

In this study, we assessed the maternal origin of six Hungarian indigenous chicken breeds using mitochondrial DNA information. Sequences of Hungarian chickens were compared with the D-loop chicken sequences annotated in the GenBank and to nine previously described reference haplotypes representing the main haplogroups of chicken. The first 530 bases of the D-loop region were sequenced in 74 chickens of nine populations. Eleven haplotypes (HIC1-HIC11) were observed from 17 variable sites. Three sequences (HIC3,HIC8 and HIC9) of our chickens were found as unique to Hungary when searched against the NCBI GenBank database. Hungarian domestic chicken mtDNA sequences could be assigned into three clades and probably two maternal lineages. Results indicated that 86%of the Hungarian haplotypes are related to the reference sequence that likely originated from the Indian subcontinent, while the minor part of our sequences presumably derive from South East Asia, China and Japan.


Gongora, J, Rawlence NJ, Mobegi VA, Jianlin H, Alcalde JA, Matus JT, Hanotte O, Moran C, Austin JJ, Ulm S, Anderson AJ, Larson G, Cooper A.  2008.  Indo-European and Asian origins for Chilean and Pacific chickens revealed by mtDNA., 2008 Jul 29. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 105(30):10308-13. Abstract

European chickens were introduced into the American continents by the Spanish after their arrival in the 15th century. However, there is ongoing debate as to the presence of pre-Columbian chickens among Amerindians in South America, particularly in relation to Chilean breeds such as the Araucana and Passion Fowl. To understand the origin of these populations, we have generated partial mitochondrial DNA control region sequences from 41 native Chilean specimens and compared them with a previously generated database of approximately 1,000 domestic chicken sequences from across the world as well as published Chilean and Polynesian ancient DNA sequences. The modern Chilean sequences cluster closely with haplotypes predominantly distributed among European, Indian subcontinental, and Southeast Asian chickens, consistent with a European genetic origin. A published, apparently pre-Columbian, Chilean specimen and six pre-European Polynesian specimens also cluster with the same European/Indian subcontinental/Southeast Asian sequences, providing no support for a Polynesian introduction of chickens to South America. In contrast, sequences from two archaeological sites on Easter Island group with an uncommon haplogroup from Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines [corrected] and may represent a genetic signature of an early Polynesian dispersal. Modeling of the potential marine carbon contribution to the Chilean archaeological specimen casts further doubt on claims for pre-Columbian chickens, and definitive proof will require further analyses of ancient DNA sequences and radiocarbon and stable isotope data from archaeological excavations within both Chile and Polynesia.

Razafindraibe, H, Mobegi VA, Ommeh SC, Rakotondravao ML, Bjørnstad G, Hanotte O, Jianlin H.  2008.  Mitochondrial DNA origin of indigenous malagasy chicken., 2008 Dec. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1149:77-9. Abstract

We report the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) characterization of 77 indigenous chickens (fighting and meat birds) from Madagascar, using DNA sequences of the first hypervariable segment of the D-loop. Comparison with reference samples from the African continent and Asia revealed two mtDNA haplogroups, suggesting a dual geographic and genetic origin for the indigenous Malagasy chickens. The most common haplogroup was present in 65 individuals of the two types; it is likely of Indonesian origin. The second haplogroup was observed in 12 fighting birds and meat chickens; it could be of African continental origin and/or the result of recent introgression with commercial lines. We further studied a G/A single nucleotide polymorphism at nucleotide position 1892 bp of the coding sequence of the Mx gene that is reported to be one of the candidate susceptible/resistant genes to viral infection in chicken. Our results indicate the "susceptible" allele G is the most common with frequencies of 65% and 70% in Malagasy fighting and meat chickens, respectively. However, the allelic frequency difference between the two types of chickens is not significant (P > 0.05). These results are discussed in light of our current linguistic and archaeological knowledge on the origin of indigenous Malagasy chickens.


Mobegi, AV, Rege JEO, Nyamu AM, Sendalo D, others.  2006.  Mitochondrial DNA D-loop sequences reveal the genetic diversity of African chicken.. The role of biotechnology in animal agriculture to address poverty in Africa: opportunities and challenges. Proceedings of the 4th All African Conference on Animal Agriculture and the 31st Annual Meeting of the Tanzania Society for Animal Production (TSAP. :293–298.: All Africa Society for Animal Production (AASAP) Abstract

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