Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum clinical isolates can infect diverse mosquito vectors of Southeast Asia and Africa.
St Laurent B., Miller B., Burton TA., Amaratunga C., Men S., Sovannaroth S., Fay MP., Miotto O., Gwadz RW., Anderson JM., Fairhurst RM.
Artemisinin-resistant Plasmodium falciparum parasites are rapidly spreading in Southeast Asia, yet nothing is known about their transmission. This knowledge gap and the possibility that these parasites will spread to Africa endanger global efforts to eliminate malaria. Here we produce gametocytes from parasite clinical isolates that displayed artemisinin resistance in patients and in vitro, and use them to infect native and non-native mosquito vectors. We show that contemporary artemisinin-resistant isolates from Cambodia develop and produce sporozoites in two Southeast Asian vectors, Anopheles dirus and Anopheles minimus, and the major African vector, Anopheles coluzzii (formerly Anopheles gambiae M). The ability of artemisinin-resistant parasites to infect such highly diverse Anopheles species, combined with their higher gametocyte prevalence in patients, may explain the rapid expansion of these parasites in Cambodia and neighbouring countries, and further compromise efforts to prevent their global spread.