annoying mosquitoes They do their thing at high temperatures, and can also transmit various diseases and provoke people on wet nights, but now a team of researchers from UCL and the University of Oldenburg has found a way to suppress their reproduction: make them deaf.
Scientists say the discovery could help develop new insecticides and fight the spread of harmful diseases like malaria.
The ability of male mosquitoes to listen to female mosquitoes is a critical requirement for their reproduction. As a result, the discovery could help develop new insecticides or mating disruptors to prevent mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and yellow fever.
In a study published in Connection with nature, the researchers focused on a signaling pathway that turns on a molecule called octopamine. They showed that this is the key to mosquito hearing and finding a mating partner, making it a potential new target for mosquito control.
Male mosquitoes acoustically detect the buzz emitted by females in large swarms that form temporarily at sunset.
Because swarms are potentially noisy, mosquitoes have evolved highly complex ears to pick up the faint sound of females flying among hundreds of hundreds of mosquitoes flying together.
However, the molecular mechanisms by which male mosquitoes “point their ears” to respond to the sounds of females flying during a swarm are largely unknown.
The researchers studied gene expression in the ear of the mosquito and found that the octopamine receptor specifically peaks in the ear of the male mosquito when mosquitoes swarm.
The study showed that octopamine affects the hearing of mosquitoes on several levels. It modulates the frequency tuning and stiffness of the sound receptor in the male ear, and controls other mechanical changes to improve female detection.
Researchers have demonstrated that the octopaminergic system in the mosquito’s ear can target insecticides.
Mosquito mating is a bottleneck for mosquito survival, so identifying new targets for mating disruption is key to controlling disease-carrying mosquito populations.
Martha Andres (UCL Ear Institute) said: “Octopamine receptors are of particular interest as they are very suitable for insecticide development. We plan to use these results to develop new molecules for the development of mating disruptors in malarial mosquitoes.
“Because hearing is essential for mosquito mating, it can be used to disrupt mosquito breeding. And further study of the auditory neuroscience of mosquitoes could lead to the development of mosquito mating-disrupting agents to control mosquitoes.”
Co-lead author Professor Jörg Albert (UCL Ear Institute and University of Oldenburg) said: “The molecular and mechanistic complexity of mosquito hearing is truly remarkable. With the identification of the octopamine pathway, we begin to scratch the outer surface of the tip of the iceberg.
“Future research will certainly provide a deeper understanding of how mosquito hearing works, as well as provide us with new opportunities to control mosquito populations and reduce human disease.
Source: Digital Trends
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