Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Sensing when it's time for sex

Malaria parasites switch between developmental stages to facilitate their transmission to the mosquito vector. This switch seems to be initiated by parasite-to-parasite communication through membrane-bound vesicles.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Release of vesicles from red blood cells.


  1. Swift, S. et al. Adv. Microb. Physiol. 45, 199–270 (2001).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Regev-Rudzki, N. et al. Cell 153, 1120–1133 (2013).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Mantel, P. Y. et al. Cell Host Microbe 13, 521–534 (2013).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. MacGregor, P., Szöör, B., Savill, N. J. & Matthews, K. R. Nature Rev. Microbiol. 10, 431–438 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Dyer, M. & Day, K. P. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 68, 403–409 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Nantakomol, D. et al. J. Infect. Dis. 203, 700–706 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Couper, K. N. et al. PLoS Pathog. 6, e1000744 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Fairhurst, R. M., Bess, C. D. & Krause, M. A. Microbes Infect. 14, 851–862 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Turner, G. D. et al. Am. J. Pathol. 145, 1057–1069 (1994).

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  10. Bosman, G. J., Lasonder, E., Groenen-Dopp, Y. A., Willekens, F. L. & Werre, J. M. J. Proteomics 76, 203–210 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Day, K. P. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 90, 8292–8296 (1993).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Gardiner, D. L. et al. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 140, 153–160 (2005).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Leann Tilley or Malcolm McConville.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Tilley, L., McConville, M. Sensing when it's time for sex. Nature 499, 38–39 (2013).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing