For malaria transmission, Plasmodium parasites must successfully complete gametocytogenesis in the vertebrate host. Differentiation into mature male or female Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes takes 9-12 days as the parasites pass through five distinct morphologic stages (I-V). To evaluate the signals controlling the initiation of stage- and/or sex-specific expression, reporter constructs containing the 5'-flanking regions (FR) of seven genes with distinct expression patterns through gametogenesis were developed. The regulatory information present in the 5'-FR of each selected gene was found to be sufficient to drive appropriate sex- and stage-specific reporter gene expression. The transformed parasite lines also provide in vivo markers to identify gametocytes at specific stages, including a subpopulation of schizonts that express early gametocyte markers. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.