Gametocytogenesis of Plasmodium falciparum in vitro: an electron microscopic study

Parasitology. 1982 Feb;84(1):1-11. doi: 10.1017/s003118200005160x.


Plasmodium falciparum was grown in vitro in blood taken from naturally infected Gambian patients, and the development of the cultured sexual parasites was studied by light and electron microscopy. The young (Stage II and III) female gametocytes undergo a single cryptomitotic nuclear division. This division immediately follows the S phase which Sinden & Smalley (1979) have demonstrated in the Stage I and II gametocytes of both sexes. The male gametocytes, by contrast, do not undergo mitosis during their maturation period in the erythrocyte and thus remain polyploid. Hence the cell cycles of the male and female gametocytes differ significantly. The ultrastructural basis of the characteristic changes in shape of the developing gametocyte are shown to be due to the assembly and subsequent loss of components of the subpellicular membranous and microtubular cytoskeleton. Stage I-III gametocytes synthesize numerous ribosomes and endoplasmic reticulum. This correlates with the active synthesis of RNA and protein in these young parasites (Sinden & Smalley, 1979). The marked reduction in macromolecular synthesis in the mature parasites is paralleled by a reduction in cytoplasmic ribosome density in the male gametocyte only. In the female, however, this reduction in activity is correlated with the appearance of a nucleolus. These changes suggest that different mechanisms are being used to control RNA synthesis in the two sexes of gametocyte.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Cytoplasm / ultrastructure
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Organoids / ultrastructure
  • Plasmodium falciparum / physiology*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / ultrastructure
  • Ribosomes / ultrastructure