Effect and localization of trifluralin in Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes: an electron microscopic study

J Eukaryot Microbiol. Jan-Feb 1995;42(1):61-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1550-7408.1995.tb01540.x.


Trifluralin, a herbicide which is known to bind to plant and algal tubulin, induced ultrastructural changes in the microtubules of the mature Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes in vitro. Trifluralin treatment led to disassembly of the well ordered subpellicular microtubules, whereas it had no effect on microtubules of human platelets or of rat neuronal cells in vitro. The disassembled microtubules showed fragmented large tubular structures, which frequently were associated with the pellicular membranes. Electron microscopic autoradiography showed radioactive trifluralin associated with the microtubule fragments. These results provide evidence that trifluralin selectively binds to microtubules in malaria parasites and causes disruption of their structure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Platelets / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / drug effects*
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Plasmodium falciparum / cytology
  • Plasmodium falciparum / drug effects*
  • Plasmodium falciparum / ultrastructure
  • Trifluralin / metabolism
  • Trifluralin / pharmacology*


  • Trifluralin