Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 17521970
Link to HAL – pasteur-03661276
Link to DOI – 10.1016/j.meegid.2007.04.004
Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 2007, 7 (5), pp.577-586. ⟨10.1016/j.meegid.2007.04.004⟩
Gametocytes are responsible for the transmission of malaria parasites, Plasmodium spp., from man to mosquito. Although transmission success, as measured by the proportion of mosquitoes infected, generally increases with gametocyte density, the proportion of parasites that are gametocytes is always paradoxically only a few percent of the asexual blood parasites. To address this paradox, we analyse transmission data sets from an urban and an adjacent rural setting in Cameroon to elucidate whether there are discernable lower and upper limits to Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte density that are linked to transmission success. We find that there exists a lower gametocyte density at which mosquito infection rates considerably increase. In addition, we identify upper gametocyte densities at which mosquito infection rates level off. Greatest increases in infection rates occur at low gametocyte densities and coincide with maximum oocyst aggregation within the infected mosquito population. This aggregated oocyst distribution remains despite increases in gametocyte density and ever-decreasing gains in mosquito infection rates. There is increasing suggestion that malaria parasites have evolved sex allocation strategies to ensure transmission in response to a changing, transmission-blocking environment. Here transmission-blocking immunity is proposed not only to ensure low density gametocyte transmission success but also to impose upper limits on transmission success.