No evidence for manipulation of Anopheles gambiae, An. coluzzii and An. arabiensis host preference by Plasmodium falciparum

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 25;7(1):9415. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-09821-x.


Whether malaria parasites can manipulate mosquito host choice in ways that enhance parasite transmission toward suitable hosts and/or reduce mosquito attraction to unsuitable hosts (i.e. specific manipulation) is unknown. To address this question, we experimentally infected three species of mosquito vectors with wild isolates of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, and examined the effects of immature and mature infections on mosquito behavioural responses to combinations of calf odour, human odour and outdoor air using a dual-port olfactometer. Regardless of parasite developmental stage and mosquito species, P. falciparum infection did not alter mosquito activation rate or their choice for human odours. The overall expression pattern of host choice of all three mosquito species was consistent with a high degree of anthropophily, with infected and uninfected individuals showing higher attraction toward human odour over calf odour, human odour over outdoor air, and outdoor air over calf odour. Our results suggest that, in this system, the parasite may not be able to manipulate the early long-range behavioural steps involved in the mosquito host-feeding process. Future studies are required to test whether malaria parasites can modify their mosquito host choice at a shorter range to enhance transmission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anopheles / parasitology*
  • Anopheles / physiology
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Cattle
  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Host-Parasite Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Mosquito Vectors / parasitology
  • Mosquito Vectors / physiology
  • Odorants
  • Plasmodium falciparum*