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© Valérie Choumet
Mosquitoes were orally infected with the chikungunya virus. Midguts were dissected at day 5 post-infection, fixed and permeabilised. Virus is shown in red (anti-E2 protein, cyanine 3), the actin network in green (phalloidin 548) and nuclei in blue (DAPI).
Publication : Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society

Density-dependent impact of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte sex ratio on mosquito infection rates

Scientific Fields
Diseases
Organisms
Applications
Technique

Published in Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society - 05 Aug 2009

Mitri C, Thiery I, Bourgouin C, Paul RE

Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 19656795

Proc. Biol. Sci. 2009 Oct;276(1673):3721-6

Malaria parasites produce male and female life cycle stages (gametocytes) that must fertilize to achieve successful colonization of the mosquito. Gametocyte sex ratios have been shown to be under strong selection pressure both as an adaptive response to a worsening blood environment for transmission and according to the number of co-infecting clones in the vertebrate. Evidence for an impact of sex ratio on the transmission success of Plasmodium falciparum has, however, been more controversial. Theoretical models of fertilization predict that increasingly male sex ratios will be favoured at low gametocyte densities to ensure fertilization. Here, we analyse in vitro transmission studies of P. falciparum to Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes and test this prediction. We find that there is a discernible effect of sex ratio on transmission but which is dependent upon the gametocyte density. While increasingly male sex ratios do give higher transmission success at low gametocyte densities, they reduce success at higher densities. This therefore provides empirical confirmation that sex ratio has an immediate impact on transmission success and that it is density-dependent. Identifying the signals used by the parasite to alter its sex ratio is essential to determine the success of transmission-blocking vaccines that aim to impede the fertilization process.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19656795