The ookinete is the key determinant of infection within the mosquito vector, yet there are few population studies of ookinetes in nature. This investigation compared different techniques used to estimate ookinete densities in mosquitoes. Laboratory-reared Anopheles dirus mosquitoes were fed on gametocytemic blood drawn from 7 Plasmodium vivax patients at a malaria clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand. At 20–26 hr, bloodmeals were excised. Three techniques were evaluated, i.e., hemacytometer counts under phase-contrast microscope, Giemsa staining of bloodmeal smears, and immunofluorescent staining with a monoclonal antibody specific against the 25-kDa antigen expressed on the surface of P. vivax zygotes and ookinetes. Additional mosquitoes were dissected at day 10 for oocysts. The hemacytometer method was the simplest and quickest method but lacked precision at low ookinete densities. Immunofluorescent staining was the most sensitive, accurate, and the only method that enabled unequivocal detection of zygotes. Bloodmeals contained a mixture of zygotes, retorts, and mature ookinetes, indicating that postzygotic development of P. vivax in A. dirus was asynchronous. The conversion efficiency of zygotes/ookinetes to oocysts varied among patients and was independent of zygote-ookinete density, suggesting that variations in host blood composition, e.g., antibodies, drugs, etc., may influence the success of zygote-ookinete development.

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