Interactions between malaria parasite clones within mixed infections can have a profound effect on transmission and therefore the epidemiology of the disease. However, factors which determine the relative transmission success of individual clones from mixed infections are unknown. We have used two clones of the rodent malaria Plasmodium chabaudi to investigate changes in the clonal composition of asexual parasites over the course of mixed-clone infections in mice and how these relate to the clonal composition of transmission (oocyst) populations in mosquitoes. Clonal composition was determined using monoclonal antibody analyses for the asexual blood stage populations and PCR analysis of single oocysts for the transmission populations in mosquitoes. The relative frequency of the two clones changed dramatically during the course of the infection in mice, depending on their ratio in the inoculum. The clonal composition of parasites within mosquitoes most closely resembled that in the asexual infection at the time of transmission rather than that at any point earlier in the infection. These results provide no evidence that clones increase rates of gametocytogenesis in response to competitive suppression. Most likely, transmission success follows from asexual success in the later parts of the infection. The clone which dominated the earlier part of the infection, when most parasites are produced, did not necessarily dominate the transmission from the infection. The two clones differed in competitive ability and the data suggest that interactions with the host immune system may be a major factor in determining transmission success from mixed-clone infections.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases