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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Adenosine triphosphate overrides the aversive effect of antifeedants and toxicants: a model alternative phagostimulant for sugar-based vector control tools

Lukenge, Matthew; Ignell, Rickard; Hill, Sharon Rose


BackgroundSugar, when used as the phagostimulant in attractive toxic bait control tools, limits the efficacy and selectivity of this technology. Thus, more potent and selective phagostimulants than sugar are required to improve this technology. The potency of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as an alternative model phagostimulant was assessed to determine its capacity to override the aversive effects of select antifeedants and toxicants. How ATP and sucrose modulate the rate of toxicity in the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti was also examined.MethodsA no-choice feeding assay was used to investigate the phagostimulatory ability of ATP to override the aversive effects of structurally divergent antifeedant and toxicant compounds, and to modulate the rate of toxicity over 24 h. Binary combinations of antifeedant and toxicant compounds, at various concentrations, were similarly assessed for enhanced lethal potency. In comparison, no-choice open access and cotton wick feeding assays were used to determine the phagostimulatory role of sucrose in the ingestion of boric acid-laced diets. Dissections of the guts were performed to determine the diet destination as dependant on the phagostimulant.ResultsATP is a potent phagostimulant that dose dependently overrides aversion to antifeedant and toxicant tastants. Feeding on antifeedant- or toxicant-laced diets that was induced by ATP selectively resulted in rapid knockdown (nicotine, lobeline and caffeine) or death (boric acid and propylene glycol), with a combination of the two lethal compounds inducing a synergistic effect at lower concentrations. ATP- and sucrose-induced feeding predominantly directed the antifeedant- or toxicant-laced meals to the midgut and the crop, respectively.ConclusionsATP is an efficacious alternative model phagostimulant to sucrose that overrides the aversive effects of antifeedants and toxicants, resulting in rapid toxic effects. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that variation in the rate of toxicity between ATP- and sugar-induced feeding is at least partly regulated by the differential feeding response, volume imbibed and the destination of the meals. Additional research is needed to identify structurally related, stable analogues of ATP due to the ephemeral nature of this molecule. For future applications, the workflow presented in this study may be used to evaluate such analogues for their suitability for use in attractive bait stations designed to target a broad range of haematophagous arthropods and prevent off-target species' feeding.


Adenosine triphosphate; Taste; Toxins; Aedes aegypti; Feeding; Mosquito; Attractive toxic sugar bait

Published in

Parasites and Vectors
2023, Volume: 16, number: 1, article number: 416Publisher: BMC