Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 10697848
Parassitologia 1999 Sep;41(1-3):153-8
The sex ratio of the avian malaria parasite, Plasmodium gallinaceum, was examined during the course of infection in its natural host, the chicken. Infections can have two possible outcomes: death of the host resulting from anaemia or self-cure and survival. In lethal infections the sex ratio remained female biased throughout, whereas in self-curing infections, the sex ratio became progressively less female biased. We examined the consequences of altering sex ratio for parasite transmission success using a theoretical fertilisation model and hypothesise that an immune response specifically effective against the male gametes would provide a selective explanation for the observed sex ratio adjustment. Previous studies have demonstrated that there is an efficient anti-gamete antibody response as an infection is cleared by the host. We performed in vitro mosquito infection studies comparing mosquito infection rates with naive serum replacement and showed that decomplemented serum from curing infections is transmission blocking, whereas serum from lethal infections is not. We discuss aspects of the malaria parasite-host interaction which might provide the selective pressure for such observed sex ratio adjustment.