PloS one

Plasmodium falciparum produce lower infection intensities in local versus foreign Anopheles gambiae populations.

PMID 22292059


Both Plasmodium falciparum and Anopheles gambiae show great diversity in Africa, in their own genetic makeup and population dynamics. The genetics of the individual mosquito and parasite are known to play a role in determining the outcome of infection in the vector, but whether differences in infection phenotype vary between populations remains to be investigated. Here we established two A. gambiae s.s. M molecular form colonies from Cameroon and Burkina Faso, representing a local and a foreign population for each of the geographical sites. Experimental infections of both colonies were conducted in Cameroon and Burkina Faso using local wild P. falciparum, giving a sympatric and allopatric vector-parasite combination in each site. Infection phenotype was determined in terms of oocyst prevalence and intensity for at least nine infections for each vector-parasite combination. Sympatric infections were found to produce 25% fewer oocysts per midgut than allopatric infections, while prevalence was not affected by local/foreign interactions. The reduction in oocyst numbers in sympatric couples may be the result of evolutionary processes where the mosquito populations have locally adapted to their parasite populations. Future research on vector-parasite interactions must take into account the geographic scale of adaptation revealed here by conducting experiments in natural sympatric populations to give epidemiologically meaningful results.

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