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Exp Parasitol. 1985 Aug;60(1):118-32.

Aedes aegypti: model for blood finding strategy and prediction of parasite manipulation.


Aedes aegypti mosquitoes salivate during intradermal probing of vertebrate prey before ingesting blood (Griffiths and Gordon 1952). Nonsalivating mosquitoes locate blood more slowly; this difference was ascribed to an anti-platelet activity found in the mosquito's saliva (Ribeiro et al. 1984). Mosquitoes infected with Plasmodium gallinaceum suffer pathology that specifically impairs saliva anti-hemostatic activity but without reducing volume of output (Rossignol et al. 1984). The complexity of the feeding apparatus of mosquitoes provides opportunity for a variety of strategies in which pathogens may produce specific lesions that enhance their transmission, but the variables that affect the duration of probing by mosquitoes have not been defined. We sought to resolve this complexity by identifying and quantifying relevant parameters of probing behavior. Mosquitoes thrust their mouthparts repeatedly through their host's skin while searching for blood. Female A. aegypti thrust at 7-sec intervals. If this search results in success, feeding ensues. Alternatively, the mosquito "desists," the mouthparts stylets are withdrawn, and the mosquito attempts to feed at another site. Even after previous desistance, the probability of finding blood remains undiminished. Functions for the probability of feeding success and desistance over time were derived using data from observations on 300 mosquitoes. The probability of feeding success was interpreted as being a function of the density of vessels in the skin, their geometric distribution, and the conditions locally affecting hemostasis. During each probe, the probability of desisting increased linearly with time, and after desisting once, mosquitoes tended to desist more rapidly. A model was developed incorporating Monte Carlo simulation which closely fit observed data. By changing values for the several parameters of the probability functions, we predicted modes in which parasites may manipulate their hosts to enhance transmission, both to and from the vector. In particular, parasite strategies in the vector would include induced salivary pathology; increased duration of probing thrusts; decreased desistance time; and inhibited phagoreception. Predicted parasite strategies in the reservoir host would include increased skin vascular volume and impaired host hemostasis. Our model supports the hypothesis of a mutualistic interaction of malaria and mosquitoes.

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