Biology of Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte sex ratio and implications in malaria parasite transmission

Malar J. 2019 Mar 12;18(1):70. doi: 10.1186/s12936-019-2707-0.


While significant advances have been made in understanding Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte biology and its relationship with malaria parasite transmission, the gametocyte sex ratio contribution to this process still remains a relevant research question. The present review discusses the biology of sex determination in P. falciparum, the underlying host and parasite factors, the sex specific susceptibility to drugs, the effect of sex ratio dynamics on malaria parasite transmission and the development of gametocyte sex specific diagnosis tools. Despite the inherent differences across several studies and approaches, the emerging picture highlights a potentially relevant contribution of the P. falciparum gametocyte sex ratio in the modulation of malaria parasite transmission. The increasing availability of molecular methods to measure gametocyte sex ratio will enable evaluation of important parameters, such as the impact of drug treatment on gametocyte sex ratio in vitro and in vivo as well as the changes of gametocyte sex ratios in natural infections, key steps towards elucidating how these parameters affect parasite infectiousness to the mosquito vectors.

Keywords: Antimalarial drugs; Gametocyte; Malaria; Plasmodium falciparum; Sex ratio; Transmission.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Transmission, Infectious*
  • Female
  • Genotype*
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Falciparum / parasitology*
  • Malaria, Falciparum / transmission*
  • Male
  • Phenotype*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / classification
  • Plasmodium falciparum / cytology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / genetics
  • Plasmodium falciparum / physiology*