An improved method for the in vitro differentiation of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes into ookinetes

Anil K. Ghosh, Rhoel R. Dinglasan, Hiromi Ikadai, Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background. Ookinete is the form of the malaria parasite that invades the mosquito midgut epithelium to initiate sporogony. Differentiation of ingested gametocytes into ookinetes in the mosquito midgut lumen and subsequent interaction with the lumenal surface of the midgut epithelium in preparation for invasion is a complex and multi-stepped process. To facilitate the study of these events in detail it is necessary to produce sufficient numbers of pure, fully mature and functional ookinetes. However, production of even a small number of Plasmodium falciparum ookinetes in vitro has proven to be a daunting task. Consequently, over the past four decades our collective understanding of the biology of this parasite form remains sorely deficient. This article reports on investigations of five different ookinete media, in an effort to improve the in vitro transformation efficiency of P. falciparum gametocytes into mature ookinetes and their infectivity of the mosquito midgut. Methods. Five different ookinete media were evaluated for their ability to support the differentiation of gametocytes into gametes and further into mature stage V ookinetes. Moreover, infectivity of the in vitro-transformed ookinetes was evaluated by feeding them to vector mosquitoes and measuring their ability to traverse the midgut and form oocysts. Results. One of the five media (medium E) was clearly superior in that the cultured ookinetes produced the largest number of oocysts when fed to mosquitoes. Key components were additions of human serum, human red blood cell lysate and mosquito pupal extract, resulting in the production of larger numbers of ookinetes able to develop into oocysts when fed to mosquitoes. Conclusion. This simple and practical improvement over the prevailing methodology will facilitate the investigation of how this important human malaria parasite initiates its development in the mosquito and will contribute to the understanding of its transmission biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number194
JournalMalaria journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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