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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Functional development of carbon dioxide detection in the maxillary palp of Anopheles gambiae

Bonaventure Omondi, Aman; Majeed, Shahid; Ignell, Rickard


Olfactory information drives several behaviours critical for the survival and persistence of insect pests and vectors. Insect behaviour is variable, linked to their biological needs, and regulated by physiological dynamics. For mosquitoes, CO2 is an important cue that signifies the presence of a host, and which elicits activation and attraction. To investigate the genetic basis of olfactory modulation in mosquitoes, we assayed changes in CO2 detection from receptor gene expression through physiological function to behaviour, associated with the onset of host seeking in the malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae. The gene encoding a subunit of the CO2 receptor, AgGr22, was found to be significantly up-regulated in host-seeking females, consistent with a significant increase in sensitivity of CO2-responsive neurons (cpA) housed in capitate peg sensilla of the maxillary palp. In addition, the odorant receptor AgOr28, which is expressed in cpC neurons, was significantly up-regulated. In contrast, AgOr8, which is expressed in cpB neurons, was not affected by this change in physiological state, in agreement with results for the obligate co-receptor Orco. Moreover, the sensitivity of the cpB neuron to (R)-1-octen-3-ol, a well-known mammalian kairomone, did not change in response to the onset of host seeking. The concentration of CO2 flux influenced both the propensity of A. gambiae to take off into the wind and the speed with which this activation occurred. Female A. gambiae mosquitoes responded to CO2 whether mature for host seeking or not, but onset of host seeking enhanced sensitivity and speed of activation at relevant doses of CO2.


Gene expression; Modulation; Host seeking; Behaviour; Physiology; Mosquito

Published in

Journal of Experimental Biology
2015, Volume: 218, number: 15, pages: 2482-2488