The development of Plasmodium falciparum in experimentally infected Anopheles gambiae (Diptera: Culicidae) under ambient microhabitat temperature in western Kenya

Bernard A. Okech, Louis C. Gouagna, Elizabeth Walczak, Ephantus W. Kabiru, John C. Beier, Guiyun Yan, John I. Githure

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The effect of microhabitat temperature variation on the early development of Plasmodium falciparum in experimentally infected Anopheles gambiae s.s. (Diptera: Culicidae) was studied. Batches of mosquitoes were fed artificially on gametocyteamic blood obtained from human volunteers and then held in five environmental conditions described as: (1) incubator maintained at constant temperature of 28 ± 1°C as control; (2) temperature unregulated laboratory environment; (3) screen house; (4) grass thatched mud house and (5) corrugated iron roofed mud house. Both the grass and iron roofed mud houses were real houses found in the village communities around the ICIPE Research Centre in Mbita Point, Suba District south-western Kenya. The temperature and relative humidity of these holding environments were recorded over the study period. Mosquitoes were dissected after 24 h and 7 days to enumerate ookinetes and oocysts stages, respectively in their midguts.The mean temperature observed in the temperature-unregulated laboratory (28°C) was significantly higher than the temperature of the screen house (24°C) while the mean temperature observed in the iron roof mud house (27°C) was comparable with that in the grass-thatched mud house (27°C) although the iron roof house experienced more variation (coefficient of variation, C.V., = 9.6%) and higher peaking temperatures than the grass-thatch house. The mean relative humidity for the laboratory and screen house were 23% and 32.5%, respectively, much lower than relative humidity in the incubator (73%). Relative humidity of the grass thatch hut (42%) and Iron roof hut (51%) were also lower than those of the incubator.The ookinete intensities for mosquitoes in the screen house (10.11 ± 1.79 ookinetes/midgut) were not statistically different (P = 0.41) from those held in the laboratory (7.50 ± 1.19 ookinetes/midgut) or in the incubator (9.89 ± 1.47 ookinetes/midgut). The holding environments influenced the oocyst infection rates (P = 0.04) that increased from 8.4% in the screen house to 10.2% in the laboratory. The highest infection rate (12.5%) was observed in mosquitoes held in the incubator. However, the mean oocyst intensities in mosquitoes did not differ under these environments (P = 0.58). In the 'real village house' environments, the mean ookinete intensities were not statistically different between groups of mosquitoes compared to the incubator (P = 0.86). The oocyst infection rates observed in the highly fluctuating iron roof house were 9.4% as compared to 9.0% and 6.9% in the more stable and constant habitats of grass thatch house and incubator, respectively. Results show that the natural microhabitats did not influence the infections rates in mosquitoes (P = 0.62). These findings indicate that the variation in temperatures prevailing in western Kenya particularly inside the village houses do not impede the development of malaria parasites in A. gambiae mosquitoes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-108
Number of pages10
JournalActa Tropica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Anopheles gambiae
  • Artificial membrane feeding
  • Indoor temperature variation
  • Malaria development
  • Natural microclimates
  • Oocysts
  • Ookinetes


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