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Concept: Plasmodium


Genetic engineering technologies can be used both to create transgenic mosquitoes carrying antipathogen effector genes targeting human malaria parasites and to generate gene-drive systems capable of introgressing the genes throughout wild vector populations. We developed a highly effective autonomous Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)-associated protein 9 (Cas9)-mediated gene-drive system in the Asian malaria vector Anopheles stephensi, adapted from the mutagenic chain reaction (MCR). This specific system results in progeny of males and females derived from transgenic males exhibiting a high frequency of germ-line gene conversion consistent with homology-directed repair (HDR). This system copies an ∼17-kb construct from its site of insertion to its homologous chromosome in a faithful, site-specific manner. Dual anti-Plasmodium falciparum effector genes, a marker gene, and the autonomous gene-drive components are introgressed into ∼99.5% of the progeny following outcrosses of transgenic lines to wild-type mosquitoes. The effector genes remain transcriptionally inducible upon blood feeding. In contrast to the efficient conversion in individuals expressing Cas9 only in the germ line, males and females derived from transgenic females, which are expected to have drive component molecules in the egg, produce progeny with a high frequency of mutations in the targeted genome sequence, resulting in near-Mendelian inheritance ratios of the transgene. Such mutant alleles result presumably from nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) events before the segregation of somatic and germ-line lineages early in development. These data support the design of this system to be active strictly within the germ line. Strains based on this technology could sustain control and elimination as part of the malaria eradication agenda.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Allele, Malaria, Plasmodium, Anopheles, Mosquito


There is much evidence that some pathogens manipulate the behaviour of their mosquito hosts to enhance pathogen transmission. However, it is unknown whether this phenomenon exists in the interaction of Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto with the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum - one of the most important interactions in the context of humanity, with malaria causing over 200 million human cases and over 770 thousand deaths each year. Here we demonstrate, for the first time, that infection with P. falciparum causes alterations in behavioural responses to host-derived olfactory stimuli in host-seeking female An. gambiae s.s. mosquitoes. In behavioural experiments we showed that P. falciparum-infected An. gambiae mosquitoes were significantly more attracted to human odors than uninfected mosquitoes. Both P. falciparum-infected and uninfected mosquitoes landed significantly more on a substrate emanating human skin odor compared to a clean substrate. However, significantly more infected mosquitoes landed and probed on a substrate emanating human skin odor than uninfected mosquitoes. This is the first demonstration of a change of An. gambiae behaviour in response to olfactory stimuli caused by infection with P. falciparum. The results of our study provide vital information that could be used to provide better predictions of how malaria is transmitted from human being to human being by An. gambiae s.s. females. Additionally, it highlights the urgent need to investigate this interaction further to determine the olfactory mechanisms that underlie the differential behavioural responses. In doing so, new attractive compounds could be identified which could be used to develop improved mosquito traps for surveillance or trapping programmes that may even specifically target P. falciparum-infected An. gambiae s.s. females.

Concepts: Immune system, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, Plasmodium vivax, Anopheles, Apicomplexa, Mosquito


The simian parasite Plasmodium knowlesi is a common cause of human malaria in Malaysian Borneo and threatens the prospect of malaria elimination. However, little is known about the emergence of P. knowlesi, particularly in Sabah. We reviewed Sabah Department of Health records to investigate the trend of each malaria species over time.

Concepts: Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, Plasmodium vivax, Anopheles, Apicomplexa, Malaysia, Plasmodium knowlesi


The unprecedented rate of change in the Arctic climate is expected to have major impacts on the emergence of infectious diseases and host susceptibility to these diseases. It is predicted that malaria parasites will spread to both higher altitudes and latitudes with global warming. Here we show for the first time that avian Plasmodium transmission occurs in the North American Arctic. Over a latitudinal gradient in Alaska, from 61°N to 67°N, we collected blood samples of resident and migratory bird species. We found both residents and hatch year birds infected with Plasmodium as far north as 64°N, providing clear evidence that malaria transmission occurs in these climates. Based on our empirical data, we make the first projections of the habitat suitability for Plasmodium under a future-warming scenario in Alaska. These findings raise new concerns about the spread of malaria to naïve host populations.

Concepts: Scientific method, Infectious disease, Malaria, Plasmodium, Infection, Bird, Canada, Arctic shrinkage


Primaquine is a key drug for malaria elimination. In addition to being the only drug active against the dormant relapsing forms of Plasmodium vivax, primaquine is the sole effective treatment of infectious P. falciparum gametocytes, and may interrupt transmission and help contain the spread of artemisinin resistance. However, primaquine can trigger haemolysis in patients with a deficiency in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDd). Poor information is available about the distribution of individuals at risk of primaquine-induced haemolysis. We present a continuous evidence-based prevalence map of G6PDd and estimates of affected populations, together with a national index of relative haemolytic risk.

Concepts: Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, Plasmodium vivax, Hemolytic anemia, Hemolysis, Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, Primaquine


Abstract. Evidence shows that malaria risk maps are rarely tailored to address national control program ambitions. Here, we generate a malaria risk map adapted for malaria control in Sudan. Community Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate (PfPR) data from 2000 to 2010 were assembled and were standardized to 2-10 years of age (PfPR(2-10)). Space-time Bayesian geostatistical methods were used to generate a map of malaria risk for 2010. Surfaces of aridity, urbanization, irrigation schemes, and refugee camps were combined with the PfPR(2-10) map to tailor the epidemiological stratification for appropriate intervention design. In 2010, a majority of the geographical area of the Sudan had risk of < 1% PfPR(2-10). Areas of meso- and hyperendemic risk were located in the south. About 80% of Sudan's population in 2011 was in the areas in the desert, urban centers, or where risk was < 1% PfPR(2-10). Aggregated data suggest reducing risks in some high transmission areas since the 1960s.

Concepts: Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, United States, Ethiopia, Plasmodium vivax, Map, Darfur


In areas of low malaria transmission, it is currently recommended that a single dose of primaquine (0.75 mg base/kg; 45 mg adult dose) be added to artemisinin combination treatment (ACT) in acute falciparum malaria to block malaria transmission. Review of studies of transmission-blocking activity based on the infectivity of patients or volunteers to anopheline mosquitoes, and of haemolytic toxicity in glucose 6-dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficient subjects, suggests that a lower primaquine dose (0.25 mg base/kg) would be safer and equally effective. This lower dose could be deployed together with ACTs without G6PD testing wherever use of a specific gametocytocide is indicated.

Concepts: Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, Plasmodium vivax, Anopheles, Apicomplexa, Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, Artemisinin


BACKGROUND: Indonesia has set 2030 as its deadline for elimination of malaria transmission in the archipelago, with regional deadlines established according to present levels of malaria endemicity and strength of health infrastructure. The Municipality of Sabang which historically had one of the highest levels of malaria in Aceh province aims to achieve elimination by the end of 2013. METHOD: From 2008 to 2010, baseline surveys of malaria interventions, mapping of all confirmed malaria cases, categorization of residual foci of malaria transmission and vector surveys were conducted in Sabang, Aceh, a pilot district for malaria elimination in Indonesia. To inform future elimination efforts, mass screening from the focal areas to measure prevalence of malaria with both microscopy and PCR was conducted. G6PD deficiency prevalence was also measured.Result: Despite its small size, a diverse mixture of potential malaria vectors were documented in Sabang, including Anopheles sundaicus, Anopheles minimus, Anopheles aconitus and Anopheles dirus. Over a two-year span, the number of sub-villages with ongoing malaria transmission reduced from 61 to 43. Coverage of malaria diagnosis and treatment, IRS, and LLINs was over 80%. Screening of 16,229 residents detected 19 positive people, for a point prevalence of 0.12%. Of the 19 positive cases, three symptomatic infections and five asymptomatic infections were detected with microscopy and 11 asymptomatic infections were detected with PCR. Of the 19 cases, seven were infected with Plasmodium falciparum, 11 were infected with Plasmodium vivax, and one subject was infected with both species. Analysis of the 937 blood samples for G6PD deficiency revealed two subjects (0.2%) with deficient G6PD. DISCUSSION: The interventions carried out by the government of Sabang have dramatically reduced the burden of malaria over the past seven years. The first phase, carried out between 2005 and 2007, included improved malaria diagnosis, introduction of ACT for treatment, and scale-up of coverage of IRS and LLINs. The second phase, from 2008 to 2010, was initiated to eliminate the persist residual transmission of malaria, consisted of development of a malaria database to ensure rapid case reporting and investigation, stratification of malaria foci to guide interventions, and active case detection to hunt symptomatic and asymptomatic malaria carriers.

Concepts: Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, Plasmodium vivax, Anopheles, Apicomplexa, Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, Aceh


BACKGROUND: Mitochondrial (mt) genomes vary considerably in size, structure and gene content. The mt genomes of the phylum Apicomplexa, which includes important human pathogens such as the malaria parasite Plasmodium, also show marked diversity of structure. Plasmodium has a concatenated linear mt genome of the smallest size (6-kb); Babesia and Theileria have a linear monomeric mt genome (6.5-kb to 8.2-kb) with terminal inverted repeats; Eimeria, which is distantly related to Plasmodium and Babesia/Theileria, possesses a mt genome (6.2-kb) with a concatemeric form similar to that of Plasmodium; Cryptosporidium, the earliest branching lineage within the phylum Apicomplexa, has no mt genome. We are interested in the evolutionary origin of linear mt genomes of Babesia/Theileria, and have investigated mt genome structures in members of archaeopiroplasmid, a lineage branched off earlier from Babesia/Theileria. RESULTS: The complete mt genomes of archaepiroplasmid parasites, Babesia microti and Babesia rodhaini, were sequenced. The mt genomes of B. microti (11.1-kb) and B. rodhaini (6.9-kb) possess two pairs of unique inverted repeats, IR-A and IR-B. Flip-flop inversions between two IR-As and between two IR-Bs appear to generate four distinct genome structures that are present at an equi-molar ratio. An individual parasite contained multiple mt genome structures, with 20 copies and 2 - 3 copies per haploid nuclear genome in B. microti and B. rodhaini, respectively. CONCLUSION: We found a novel linear monomeric mt genome structure of B. microti and B. rhodhaini equipped with dual flip-flop inversion system, by which four distinct genome structures are readily generated. To our knowledge, this study is the first to report the presence of two pairs of distinct IR sequences within a monomeric linear mt genome. The present finding provides insight into further understanding of evolution of mt genome structure.

Concepts: DNA, Bacteria, Genome, Malaria, Plasmodium, Apicomplexa, Babesia, Theileria


BACKGROUND: Anopheles (Kerteszia) cruzii is a primary vector of Plasmodium parasites in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. Adult females of An. cruzii and An. homunculus, which is a secondary malaria vector, are morphologically similar and difficult to distinguish when using external morphological characteristics only. These two species may occur syntopically with An. bellator, which is also a potential vector of Plasmodium species and is morphologically similar to An. cruzii and An. homunculus. Identification of these species based on female specimens is often jeopardised by polymorphisms, overlapping morphological characteristics and damage caused to specimens during collection. Wing geometric morphometrics has been used to distinguish several insect species; however, this economical and powerful tool has not been applied to Kerteszia species. Our objective was to assess wing geometry to distinguish An. cruzii, An. homunculus and An. bellator. METHODS: Specimens were collected in an area in the Serra do Mar hotspot biodiversity corridor of the Atlantic Forest biome (Cananeia municipality, State of Sao Paulo, Brazil). The right wings of females of An. cruzii (n= 40), An. homunculus (n= 50) and An. bellator (n= 27) were photographed. For each individual, 18 wing landmarks were subjected to standard geometric morphometrics. Discriminant analysis of Procrustean coordinates was performed to quantify wing shape variation. RESULTS: Individuals clustered into three distinct groups according to species with a slight overlap between representatives of An. cruzii and An. homunculus. The Mahalanobis distance between An. cruzii and An. homunculus was consistently lower (3.50) than that between An. cruzii and An. bellator (4.58) or An. homunculus and An. bellator (4.32). Pairwise cross-validated reclassification showed that geometric morphometrics is an effective analytical method to distinguish between An. bellator, An. cruzii and An. homunculus with a reliability rate varying between 78-88%. Shape analysis revealed that the wings of An. homunculus are narrower than those of An. cruzii and that An. bellator is different from both of the congeneric species. CONCLUSION: It is possible to distinguish among the vectors An. cruzii, An. homunculus and An. bellator based on female wing characteristics.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, Brazil, São Paulo, Procrustes analysis, Wing