Plasmodium falciparum is a protozoan parasite, one of the species of Plasmodium that cause malaria. Malaria parasites are members of the Apicomplexa. Apicomplexa are characterized by a set of organelles found in some stages of the parasite's life cycle. These organelles, collectively known as apical organelles because of their localization at one end of the parasite, are involved in interactions between the parasite and host. In particular, the apical organelles have been implicated in the process of host cell invasion. In the case of Plasmodium, three distinct invasive forms have been identified: sporozoite, merozoite, and ookinete.