Application of molecular methods for monitoring transmission stages of malaria parasites

Biomed Mater. 2008 Sep;3(3):034007. doi: 10.1088/1748-6041/3/3/034007. Epub 2008 Aug 15.


Recent technical advances in malaria research have allowed specific detection of mRNA of genes that are expressed exclusively in sexual stages (gametocytes) of malaria parasites. The specificity and sensitivity of these techniques were validated on cultured laboratory clones of both human malaria parasites (Plasmodium falciparum) and rodent parasites (P. chabaudi). More recently, quantitative molecular techniques have been developed to quantify these sexual stages and used to monitor gametocyte dynamics and their transmission to mosquitoes. Molecular techniques showed that the infectious reservoir for malaria is larger than expected from previous microscopic studies; individual parasite genotypes within an infection can simultaneously produce infectious gametocytes; gametocyte production can be sustained for several months, and is modulated by environmental factors. The above techniques have empowered approaches for in-depth analysis of the biology of the transmission stages of the parasite and epidemiology of malaria transmission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Germ Cells
  • Humans
  • Malaria / parasitology*
  • Malaria / transmission*
  • Molecular Probe Techniques*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / growth & development*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / isolation & purification
  • Protozoan Proteins / analysis*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*


  • Protozoan Proteins