Mosquito brains encode unique features of human odour to drive host seeking.

TitleMosquito brains encode unique features of human odour to drive host seeking.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsZhao, Z, Zung, JL, Hinze, A, Kriete, AL, Iqbal, A, Younger, MA, Matthews, BJ, Merhof, D, Thiberge, S, Ignell, R, Strauch, M, McBride, CS
Date Published2022 05
KeywordsAedes, Animals, Brain, Female, Host-Seeking Behavior, Humans, Mosquito Control, Mosquito Vectors, Odorants

<p>A globally invasive form of the mosquito Aedes aegypti specializes in biting humans, making it an efficient disease vector. Host-seeking female mosquitoes strongly prefer human odour over the odour of animals, but exactly how they distinguish between the two is not known. Vertebrate odours are complex blends of volatile chemicals with many shared components, making discrimination an interesting sensory coding challenge. Here we show that human and animal odours evoke activity in distinct combinations of olfactory glomeruli within the Ae. aegypti antennal lobe. One glomerulus in particular is strongly activated by human odour but responds weakly, or not at all, to animal odour. This human-sensitive glomerulus is selectively tuned to the long-chain aldehydes decanal and undecanal, which we show are consistently enriched in human odour and which probably originate from unique human skin lipids. Using synthetic blends, we further demonstrate that signalling in the human-sensitive glomerulus significantly enhances long-range host-seeking behaviour in a wind tunnel, recapitulating preference for human over animal odours. Our research suggests that animal brains may distil complex odour stimuli of innate biological relevance into simple neural codes and reveals targets for the design of next-generation mosquito-control strategies.</p>

Alternate JournalNature
PubMed ID35508661
Grant ListDP2 AI144246 / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States
R00 DC012069 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States