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The sensory physiology and ecology of taste in the African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae

English title The sensory physiology and ecology of taste in the African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae
Applicant Guerin Patrick
Number 138207
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Institut de Biologie Faculté des Sciences Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline Zoology
Start/End 01.10.2011 - 30.09.2013
Approved amount 124'320.00
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Keywords (9)

Anopheline mosquito; Insect vector of disease; African malaria mosquito; Anopheles gambiae; Blood feeding; Nectar feeding; Gustation; Feeding stimulnt; Feeding deterrent

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

The African malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, is one of the more efficient vectors of human malaria, especially of its more lethal form caused by Plasmodium falciparum. The anthropophilic host preference of this species as well as its endophilic behaviour guarantees a strong host-vector interaction favorable to a very high level of parasite transmission. While olfactory cues that serve female An. gambiae to find humans for a blood meal have been well researched, little is known about taste organs and gustatory chemoreceptor responses in this species. Such responses are implicated in host recognition, feeding site choice and biting responses in mosquitoes. Plant derived sugars in nectar provide a primary nutrient source for adult An. gambiae whereas vertebrate blood provides proteins for egg production. The project aims are to identify specific products from plants and humans that serve to stimulate feeding by An. gambiae. Neurophysiological recordings targeted at contact-chemosensilla on the prothoracic legs and mouthparts of male and female An. gambiae will permit us to identify the most important biting and feeding stimuli. We will then use behavioural assays to quantify the biting and feeding responses of An. gambiae to such stimuli. With the use of ion channel inhibitors we will also try to elucidate the ion channel types implicated in the neurophysiological responses of An. gambiae gustatory sensory cells. An important component of the research will be the identification of feeding deterrents as this may lead to the identification of products that could serve to inhibit the biting and feeding responses of the African malaria mosquito and so break the disease transmission cycle.


Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Sugar‑sensitive neurone responses and sugar feeding preferences influence lifespan and biting behaviours of the Afrotropical malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae
Kessler Sébastien Vlimant Michèle and Guerin Patrick M. (2015), Sugar‑sensitive neurone responses and sugar feeding preferences influence lifespan and biting behaviours of the Afrotropical malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, in Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 201, 317-329.
Quinine and artesunate inhibit feeding in the African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae: the role of gustatory organs within the mouthparts
Kessler Sébastien González Julia Vlimant Michèle Glauser Gaëtan and Guerin Patrick M. (2014), Quinine and artesunate inhibit feeding in the African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae: the role of gustatory organs within the mouthparts, in Physiological Entomology, 39, 172-182.
The sugar meal of hte African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae and how deterrent compounds interfere with it: a behavioural and neurophysiological study
Kessler Sébastien Vlimant Michele and Guerin Patrick M. (2013), The sugar meal of hte African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae and how deterrent compounds interfere with it: a behavioural and neurophysiological study, in Journal of Experimental Biology, 216, 1292-1306.

Awards

Title Year
Awarded a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in insect neurophysiology at a renowned UK university 2013

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
112425 Host seeking in tsetse flies and functional genomics of hunger-driven behaviors in anopheles gambiae 01.04.2006 Project funding

Abstract

The African malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, is one of the more efficient vectors of human malaria, especially of its more lethal form caused by Plasmodium falciparum. The anthropophilic host preference of this species as well as its endophilic behaviour guarantees a strong host-vector interaction favorable to a very high intensity of parasite transmission. Olfactory cues are largely responsible for orientation of mosquitoes to hosts and in recent years an important effort has been made to identify human-specific products that influence host finding behaviours by female An. gambiae. Indeed this species has become a model for studies on insect olfactory systems yet very little is known about taste organs and contact chemoreception in this species, despite their importance in feeding site choice and biting responses on hosts. Plant derived sugars provide a primary nutrient source for adult An. gambiae whereas vertebrate blood provides proteins for egg production in such a blood-feeding mosquito. This project sets out to gain insight into products that serve as gustatory cues for An. gambiae by using behavioural and electrophysiological methods. Our first aim is to provide a map of the distribution and ultrastructural details of contact-chemosensilla on the prothoracic legs and mouthparts of male and female An. gambiae. We will then use a behavioural assay for quantifying the biting responses of An. gambiae on hosts and another one that permits studying the feeding response of the mosquito presented with plant nutritional stimuli as well as feeding deterrents. Electrophysiological recordings from contact-chemosensilla of An. gambiae will be used to study the neurobiological basis of the perception of biting and feeding stimuli as well as deterrents. Using these methods we plan to identify phagostimulants that permit An. gambiae to recognize, one the one hand, plant nutrients and, on the other, vertebrate hosts for a blood meal. Finally, using specific ion channel inhibitors we will try to elucidate which channel types are implicated in the neurophysiological responses of An. gambiae gustatory sensory cells. This work will contribute to our knowledge of key behaviours in the sensory ecology of An. gambiae. Investigations on the gustatory responses of this important disease vector could well lead to the identification of products with low vapor pressures that persist on substrates to deter landing and biting responses of mosquitoes.
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