Mosquito Vectors and the Globalization of Plasmodium falciparum Malaria


Molina-Cruz, Alvaro, Martine M. Zilversmit, Daniel E. Neafsey, Daniel L. Hartl, and Carolina Barillas-Mury. 2016. “Mosquito Vectors and the Globalization of Plasmodium falciparum Malaria.” Annual Reviews 50: 447-465.



Plasmodium falciparum malaria remains a devastating public health problem. Recent discoveries have shed light on the origin and evolution of Plasmodium parasites and their interactions with their vertebrate and mosquito hosts. P. falciparum malaria originated in Africa from a single horizontal transfer between an infected gorilla and a human, and became global as the result of human migration. Today, P. falciparum malaria is transmitted worldwide by more than 70 different anopheline mosquito species. Recent studies indicate that the mosquito immune system can be a barrier to malaria transmission and that the P. falciparum Pfs47 gene allows the parasite to evade mosquito immune detection. Here, we review the origin and globalization of P. falciparum and integrate this history with analysis of the biology, evolution, and dispersal of the main mosquito vectors. This new perspective broadens our understanding of P. falciparum population structure and the dispersal of important parasite genetic traits.