Alterations in mosquito behaviour by malaria parasites: Potential impact on force of infection

Lauren J. Cator, Penelope A. Lynch, Matthew B. Thomas, Andrew F. Read

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: A variety of studies have reported that malaria parasites alter the behaviour of mosquitoes. These behavioural alterations likely increase transmission because they reduce the risk of vector death during parasite development and increase biting after parasites become infectious. Methods. A mathematical model is used to investigate the potential impact of these behavioural alterations on the lifetime number of infectious bites delivered. The model is used to explore the importance of assumptions about the magnitude and distribution of mortality as well as the importance of extrinsic incubation period and gonotrophic cycle length. Additionally, the model is applied to four datasets taken from actual transmission settings. Results: The impact of behavioural changes on the relative number of lifetime bites is highly dependent on assumptions about the distribution of mortality over the mosquito-feeding cycle. Even using fairly conservative estimates of these parameters and field collected data, the model outputs suggest that altered feeding could easily cause a doubling in the force of infection. Conclusions: Infection-induced behavioural alterations have their greatest impact on the lifetime number of infectious bites in environments with high feeding-related adult mortality and many pre-infectious feeding cycles. Interventions that increase feeding-associated mortality are predicted to amplify the relative fitness benefits and hence enhance the strength of selection for behavioural alteration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number164
JournalMalaria journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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