Ecological influences on the behaviour and fertility of malaria parasites

Lucy M. Carter, Laura C. Pollitt, Sarah Reece, Laurence G. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sexual reproduction in the mosquito is essential for the transmission of malaria parasites and a major target for transmission-blocking interventions. Male gametes need to locate and fertilize females in the challenging environment of the mosquito blood meal, but remarkably little is known about the ecology and behaviour of male gametes.

Methods
Here, a series of experiments explores how some aspects of the chemical and physical environment experienced during mating impacts upon the production, motility, and fertility of male gametes.

Results and Conclusions
Specifically, the data confirm that: (a) rates of male gametogenesis vary when induced by the family of compounds (tryptophan metabolites) thought to trigger gamete differentiation in nature; and (b) complex relationships between gametogenesis and mating success exist across parasite species. In addition, the data reveal that (c) microparticles of the same size as red blood cells negatively affect mating success; and (d) instead of swimming in random directions, male gametes may be attracted by female gametes. Understanding the mating ecology of malaria parasites, may offer novel approaches for blocking transmission and explain adaptation to different species of mosquito vectors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number220
JournalMalaria Journal
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2016

Keywords

  • Malaria
  • Transmission
  • Microgamete
  • Fertilization
  • Blood meal

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