Research communication

Fate of haem iron in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum

Timothy J. EGAN, Jill M. COMBRINCK, Joanne EGAN, Giovanni R. HEARNE, Helder M. MARQUES, Skhumbuzo NTENTENI, B. Trevor SEWELL, Peter J. SMITH, Dale TAYLOR, Donelly A. van SCHALKWYK, Jason C. WALDEN


Chemical analysis has shown that Plasmodium falciparum trophozoites contain 61±2% of the iron within parasitized erythrocytes, of which 92±6% is located within the food vacuole. Of this, 88±9% is in the form of haemozoin. 57Fe-Mössbauer spectroscopy shows that haemozoin is the only detectable iron species in trophozoites. Electron spectroscopic imaging confirms this conclusion.

  • haemozoin
  • Mössbauer spectroscopy
  • electron spectroscopic imaging


  • Abbreviations used: ESI, electron spectroscopic imaging; FV, food vacuole; TEM, transmission electron microscopy.