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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Contrasting effects of the alkaloid ricinine on the capacity of Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles coluzzii to transmit Plasmodium falciparum

Hien, Domonbabele F. D. S.; Pare, Prisca S. L.; Cooper, Amanda; Koama, Benjamin K.; Guissou, Edwige; Yameogo, Koudraogo B.; Yerbanga, Rakiswende S.; Farrell, Iain W.; Ouedraogo, Jean B.; Gnankine, Olivier; Ignell, Rickard; Cohuet, Anna; Dabire, Roch K.; Stevenson, Philip C.; Lefevre, Thierry


Background: Besides feeding on blood, females of the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae sensu lato readily feed on natural sources of plant sugars. The impact of toxic secondary phytochemicals contained in plant-derived sugars on mosquito physiology and the development of Plasmodium parasites remains elusive. The focus of this study was to explore the influence of the alkaloid ricinine, found in the nectar of the castor bean Ricinus communis, on the ability of mosquitoes to transmit Plasmodium falciparum.Methods: Females of Anopheles gambiae and its sibling species Anopheles coluzzii were exposed to ricinine through sugar feeding assays to assess the effect of this phytochemical on mosquito survival, level of P. falciparum infection and growth rate of the parasite.Results: Ricinine induced a significant reduction in the longevity of both Anopheles species. Ricinine caused acceleration in the parasite growth rate with an earlier invasion of the salivary glands in both species. At a concentration of 0.04 g l(-1) in An. coluzzii, ricinine had no effect on mosquito infection, while 0.08 g l(-1) ricinine-5% glucose solution induced a 14% increase in An. gambiae infection rate.Conclusions: Overall, our findings reveal that consumption of certain nectar phytochemicals can have unexpected and contrasting effects on key phenotypic traits that govern the intensity of malaria transmission. Further studies will be required before concluding on the putative role of ricinine as a novel control agent, including the development of ricinine-based toxic and transmission-blocking sugar baits. Testing other secondary phytochemicals in plant nectar will provide a broader understanding of the impact which plants can have on the transmission of vector-borne diseases.


Plasmodium falciparum; Anopheles coluzzii; Anopheles gambiae; Ricinine; Malaria transmission; Transmission-blocking strategies

Published in

Parasites and Vectors
2021, Volume: 14, number: 1, article number: 479
Publisher: BMC

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