The influence of malaria parasite genetic diversity and anaemia on mosquito feeding and fecundity

H. M. Ferguson, A. Rivero, A. F. Read

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51 Scopus citations


Studies of invertebrate-parasite interactions frequently report that infection reduces host fecundity. The extent of the reduction is likely to be determined by a wide range of host and parasite factors. We conducted a laboratory experiment to evaluate the role of parasite genetics and infection genetic diversity on the fecundity of mosquitoes carrying malaria parasites. The malaria vector Anopheles stephensi was infected with either of 2 different genotypes of the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium chabaudi, or by a mixture of both. Mixed genotype infections reduced mosquito fecundity by 20%, significantly more than either of the 2 single genotype infections. Mixed genotype infections were associated with high gametocyte densities and anaemia in mice, both of which were correlated with reduced bloodmeal size in mosquitoes. Bloodmeal size was the most important predictor of mosquito fecundity; the presence and number of parasites had no direct effect. Parasite density influenced the propensity of mosquitoes to feed on infected mice, with a higher percentage of mosquitoes taking a meal as asexual parasite and gametocyte density increased. Thus mosquitoes may preferentially feed on hosts who will most impair their fecundity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-19
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Infectious Diseases


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