Have you ever heard of the genus plasmodium? Do you know what this genus is most known for? In this lesson you will learn some of the common characteristics shared by plasmodium.
You will also learn why they are such an infamous group of organisms.
You’re a journalist and you have just been given your big break, your first real report from the field. It’s been your dream to get to report a big story, and now is your chance! There has been what appears to be an outbreak of malaria in Texas. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) thinks it originated from mosquitoes in packages coming from Asia and South America. While they try to get control of the situation, you have been sent in to get as much information as you can. Your boss wants to run a big story on what’s happening tonight at 11 PM. To get accurate information you need to interview the doctors on the scene, as well as some of the patients at the hospital.
You are set, ready to take notes, and complete your interviews. You are determined to make this the best news segment of the evening.
What Is Plasmodium?
You find the doctor leading the team that is treating those who have been diagnosed. You sit down to interview Dr. Owusu and ask her just what is causing this outbreak that we are seeing here in Texas.
The doctor asks you to get your pen and paper ready so she can educate you about plasmodium.Dr. Owusu says that plasmodium is a genus of parasitic micro-organisms known to cause malaria in humans. Parasites, like plasmodium, are organisms that live in or on other organisms (the hosts), to the detriment of those organisms. Plasmodium can infect many different types of animals, including reptiles, birds and mammals. However, you are here reporting because of the malaria outbreak caused by their human infection.
The plasmodium life cycle consist of three stages: gametocytes, sporozoites, and merozoites. Plasmodium start their life cycle as gametocytes in the bellies of a female anopheles mosquito. As they develop, they change into sporozoites and migrate to the salivary glands of the mosquito. The sporozoites are injected into the host as the female mosquito feeds. Once in the host, the sporozoites make their way to the host’s liver.
Some of the sporozoites will change into merozoites and attack the red blood cells of the host, and others will change into gametocytes to start the cycle again. Now a new mosquito can pick up new gametocytes and spread them to a new potential host. Dr. Owusu then shows you a picture of the gametocyte stage of one of the more than 100 species of plasmodium that are found all over the world.