Timing malaria transmission with mosquito fluctuations

Abstract : Temporal variations in the activity of arthropod vectors can dramatically affect the epidemiology and evolution of vector-borne pathogens. Here, we explore the "Hawking hypothesis", which states that these pathogens may evolve the ability to time investment in transmission to match the activity of their vectors. First, we use a theoretical model to identify the conditions promoting the evolution of time-varying transmission strategies in pathogens. Second, we experimentally test the "Hawking hypothesis" by monitoring the within-host dynamics of Plasmodium relictum throughout the acute and the chronic phases of the bird infection. We detect a periodic increase of parasitemia and mosquito infection in the late afternoon that coincides with an increase in the biting activity of its natural vector. We also detect a positive effect of mosquito bites on Plasmodium replication in the birds both in the acute and in the chronic phases of the infection. This study highlights that Plasmodium parasites use two different strategies to increase the match between transmission potential and vector availability. We discuss the adaptive nature of these unconditional and plastic transmission strategies with respect to the time scale and the predictability of the fluctuations in the activity of the vector.
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Romain Pigeault, Quentin Caudron, Antoine Nicot, Ana Rivero, Sylvain Gandon. Timing malaria transmission with mosquito fluctuations. Evolution Letters, Wiley, 2018, 2 (4), pp.378-389. ⟨10.1002/evl3.61⟩. ⟨hal-01892556⟩

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