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Sexual development in malarial parasites: gametocyte production, fertility and infectivity to the mosquito vector

  • A. L. Dearsly (a1), R. E. Sinden (a1) and I. A. Self (a1)


Using cloned lines of Plasmodium berghei producing mixed asexual and sexual (clone 234L) and purely asexual (clone 233L) parasitaemias, the courses of parasitaemia, gametocytogenesis, exflagellation, ookinete production in vitro and mosquito infectivity have been followed. For clone 234L mosquito infectivity is maximal at day 3 and has ceased by day 6 post-infection. Conversely, gametocytogenesis, exflagellation and ookinete production are at minimal levels at day 3 and rise to peaks between days 10 and 15 of infection (in TO mice infected with blood at mechanical blood passage 3). Sexual potential declines progressively with sustained mechanical passage (up to P14). Gametocyte conversion is highest early in infection and declines exponentially; however, upon each mechanical passage conversion is again raised but decreases more rapidly with succeeding passages. For practical mosquito transmission in the laboratory we consider P8 to be the useful limit for mechanical transmission for this parasite clone. Asexual parasite growth (virulence) is more rapid with increased mechanical passage inducing a rapid fall in haematocrit. By P14 the course of infection closely parallels that of the purely asexual clone 233L.



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