What is the structure and size of malaria?
Malaria is caused by a single celled protist of the genus Plasmodium. It undergoes a complex life cycle, involving two separate asexual reproductive stages in the vertebrate host (including humans) and sexual reproduction as well as multiplication in the insect vector (all human malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes). As such, the parasite undergoes much structural and cellular change during its lifecycle, including to its size.
In terms of structure, most of the infectious stages of Plasmodium consist of a nucleus (which contains DNA, the cell’s genetic material), a mitochondrion (used for respiration and thus producing the energy for the cell), microtubules (for moving proteins and other molecules) and an apicoplast, which is a organ unique to this group of single-celled parasites which is thought to be implicated in the invasion of host cells. The surface of the organism is covered in different proteins, some of which are used for binding to target host cells.