Sporogonic Development of Cultured Plasmodium Falciparum in Six Species of Laboratory-Reared Anopheles Mosquitoes

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  • Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, School of Hygiene and Public Health, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

Sporogonic development of cultured Plasmodium falciparum was compared in six species of Anopheles mosquitoes. A reference species, A. gambiae, was selected as the standard for comparison. Estimates of absolute densities were determined for each lifestage. From these data, four aspects of parasite population dynamics were analyzed quantitatively: 1) successive losses in abundance as parasites developed from gametocyte to ookinete to oocyst stages, 2) oocyst production of sporozoites, 3) correlation between various lifestage parameters, and 4) parasite distribution. Parasite populations in A. gambiae incurred a 316-fold loss in abundance during the transition from macrogametocyte to ookinete stage, a 100-fold loss from ookinete to oocyst stage, yielding a total loss of approximately 31,600-fold (i.e., losses are multiplicative). Comparative susceptibilities in order were A. freeborniA. gambiae, A. arabiensis, A. dirus > A. stephensi, A. albimanus. The key transition(s) determining overall susceptibility differed among species. Despite species differences in oocyst densities and infection rates, salivary gland sporozoite production per oocyst (approximately 640) was the same among species. The most consistent association among lifestage parameters was a positive correlation between densities and infection rates of homologous lifestages. A curvilinear relationship between ookinete and oocyst densities in A. gambiae indicated a threshold density was required for ookinete conversion to oocysts (approximately 30 ookinetes per mosquito). The same relationship in A. freeborni was linear, with no distinct threshold. Ookinete and oocyst populations were negative binomially distributed in all species. Indices of heterogeneity in mosquito susceptibility to infection indicated that gene frequencies determining susceptibility fluctuated with time in all species, except A. freeborni where susceptibility remained homogenous throughout the study. This approach provides a framework for identifying mechanisms of susceptibility and evaluating Plasmodium sporogonic development in naturally occurring vector species in nature.