The population dynamics of cultured Plasmodium falciparum parasites was examined during their sporogonic development in Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes. Estimates of absolute densities were determined for each life stage, and life tables were constructed for each of 38 experimental infections. Macrogametocyte and ookinete mortalities contributed equally to the overall mortality. On average, there was a 40-fold decrease in parasite numbers in the transition from the macrogametocyte to the ookinete stage, a 69-fold decrease in the transition from ookinete to oocyst stages, and a total net decrease in parasite numbers from macrogametocyte to oocyst stage of 2,754- fold (i.e., multiplicative). There was no relationship between macrogametocyte and ookinete densities due to the inherent variability in fertility among different gametocyte cultures. There was a curvilinear relationship (r2 = 0.66) between ookinete and oocyst densities. Above a threshold of about 30 ookinetes/mosquito, the oocyst yield per ookinete became increasingly greater with increasing ookinete density. There was a linear relationship (r2 = 0.73) between oocyst and sporozoite densities, with an average of 663 salivary gland sporozoites produced per oocyst. Sporozoite production per oocyst was not affected by oocyst density and virtually all oocyst infections resulted in sporozoite infections of the salivary glands. This quantitative study indicates that the sporogony of cultured P. falciparum in laboratory-infected A. gambiae is an inefficient process and that the ookinete is the key transitional stage affecting the probability of vector infectivity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics