Abstract

Plasmodium parasites (Plasmodiidae) cause malaria in many species of terrestrial vertebrates and are transmitted mainly by mosquitoes (Culicidae). Avian malaria is often caused by Plasmodium relictum, a cosmopolitan hemosporidian infection. Numerous genetic lineages of P. relictum have been described. However, it remains unclear if these lineages can be transmitted by Culex pipiens pipiens form molestus, which is widespread but has been insufficiently investigated as a possible vector of avian malaria. The aim of this study was to test experimentally if 2 common P. relictum lineages complete sporogony in the experimentally infected insects. The mosquitoes were cultivated under laboratory conditions. Unfed females were allowed to take blood meals on domestic canaries experimentally infected with the lineages pSGS1 and pGRW11 of P. relictum. These lineages are widespread and cause malaria in many species of birds. Infected female flies were examined for sporogonic development of each parasite lineage. Both exposed groups were maintained under the same laboratory conditions. Mosquitoes were dissected at intervals, and the midguts and salivary glands were prepared in order to detect sporogonic stages. Numerous ookinetes, oocysts, and sporozoites of both parasite lineages were observed. Polymerase chain reaction confirmed the presence of corresponding parasite lineages in the experimentally infected insects. Sporogonic stages of both lineages were morphologically similar and developed synchronously in this mosquito; however, the lineage pGRW11 developed a significantly greater number of oocysts than did the lineage pSGS1. This study shows that Culex p. pipiens f. molestus is susceptible to 2 widespread lineages of P. relictum and worth more attention in avian malaria epidemiology. We recommend C. p. pipiens f. molestus for experimental research of avian malaria parasites, principally because it willingly takes blood meals on birds and because it is easy to establish and maintain new colonies of this insect under laboratory conditions using wild-sampled eggs, larvae, or imago.

You do not currently have access to this content.