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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Characterization of Antennal Trichoid Sensilla from Female Southern House Mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus Say

Hill, Sharon; Hansson, Bill; Ignell, Rickard


Culex quinquefasciatus, the southern house mosquito, is highly dependent on its olfactory system for vector-related activities such as host seeking and oviposition. The antennae are the primary olfactory organs in mosquitoes. We describe 5 morphological types of sensilla on the antenna of C. quinquefasciatus: 1) a pair of sensilla coeloconica located at the distal tip, 2) long and short sensilla chaetica present on all 13 antennal flagella, 3) sensilla ampullacea found on the 2 proximal-most flagella, 4) 2 morphological types of grooved pegs dispersed throughout the flagella, and 5) 5 morphological subtypes of sensilla trichodea distributed among all flagella. Antennal trichoid and grooved peg sensilla of mosquitoes have been demonstrated to house the olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) that detect many of the odors involved in eliciting vector-related behaviors. In order to initiate the functional characterization of the peripheral olfactory system in female C. quinquefasciatus, we mapped the physiological responses of all 5 morphological subtypes of sensilla trichodea to an odor panel of 44 behaviorally relevant odor compounds. We identified 17 functional classes of sensilla trichodea: 3 short sharp-tipped, 9 short blunt-tipped type I, and 5 short blunt-tipped type II sensilla. One morphological subtype remains unclassified as the long sharp-tipped sensilla did not respond to any of the volatiles tested. The functional classes of the ORNs were analyzed with respect to stimulus response profiles, stimuli sensitivity, and temporal coding patterns. Comparisons with other functionally classified mosquito antennal sensilla trichodea are discussed.


chemoreception; electrophysiology; host cues; olfactory receptor neurons; oviposition cues; plant volatiles; semiochemicals and southern house mosquito

Published in

Chemical Senses
2009, Volume: 34, number: 3, pages: 231-252