The malaria-causing protozoan Plasmodium falciparum may facilitate its own spread by making people more alluring to mosquitoes, according to biomedical researchers reporting in the September PLoS Biology.
P. falciparum spends part of its life cycle in mosquitoes and the remainder in people. After a mosquito carrying the parasite bites a person, protozoa migrate from the wound to the liver. There, the organisms produce offspring that attack blood cells. When another mosquito bites the infected person, the parasites, now in a form called gametocytes, complete their life cycle in the insect.
To see whether carrying the transmissible gametocytes might affect a person's attractiveness to mosquitoes, Jacob Koella of Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris and his colleagues devised a simple test in an area of Kenya with endemic malaria. The disease affects mainly children in sub-Saharan Africa.
The researchers arranged three tents so that e