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Article

Species-Specificity in Thermopreference and CO2-Gated Heat-Seeking in Culex Mosquitoes

1
Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
2
Laboratorio de Entomología Experimental—Grupo de Ecología Térmica en Insectos (GETI), Instituto de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, CONICET—Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires C1428EGA, Argentina
3
The Fralin Life Science Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
4
Center of Emerging, Zoonotic and Arthropod-borne Pathogens, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
5
The Global Change Center, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
6
Department of Entomology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editors: Sylvia Anton and Romina B. Barrozo
Insects 2022, 13(1), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010092
Received: 17 December 2021 / Revised: 10 January 2022 / Accepted: 11 January 2022 / Published: 14 January 2022
(This article belongs to the Collection Insect Sensory Biology)
Mosquitoes are cold-blooded insects whose body temperature and metabolism are largely affected by environmental temperature. These blood-sucking insects use heat emanating from their potential hosts to locate them for feeding, which is how they spread deadly diseases. They also use other cues, including exhaled carbon dioxide and other body odors emitted by the hosts. Interestingly, every species displays specific preferences for a range of ambient temperatures and blood hosts, which includes both warm- and cold-blooded animals. To better understand the role of heat in these contexts, we studied female mosquitoes of three species that differ in their location of origin and in their host preference: Culex territans, Cx. tarsalis, and Cx. quinquefasciatus. We analyzed their preference towards specific ambient temperatures and quantified their heat-seeking behaviors in the presence of CO2 at different concentrations. We found contrasting differences between these species, which reflects their native habitat and their host preference.
Combining thermopreference (Tp) and CO2-gated heat-seeking assays, we studied the thermal preferendum and response to thermal cues in three Culex mosquito species exhibiting differences in native habitat and host preference (e.g., biting cold and/or warm-blooded animals). Results show that these species differ in both Tp and heat-seeking behavior. In particular, we found that Culex territans, which feed primarily on cold-blood hosts, did not respond to heat during heat-seeking assays, regardless of the CO2 concentration, but exhibited an intermediate Tp during resting. In contrast, Cx. quinquefasciatus, which feeds on warm blooded hosts, sought the coolest locations on a thermal gradient and responded only moderately to thermal stimuli when paired with CO2 at higher concentrations. The third species, Cx. tarsalis, which has been shown to feed on a wide range of hosts, responded to heat when paired with high CO2 levels and exhibited a high Tp. This study provides the first insights into the role of heat and CO2 in the host seeking behavior of three disease vectors in the Culex genus and highlights differences in preferred resting temperatures. View Full-Text
Keywords: Culex territans; Culex quinquefasciatus; Culex tarsalis; mosquito thermal biology; disease vector Culex territans; Culex quinquefasciatus; Culex tarsalis; mosquito thermal biology; disease vector
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MDPI and ACS Style

Reinhold, J.M.; Chandrasegaran, K.; Oker, H.; Crespo, J.E.; Vinauger, C.; Lahondère, C. Species-Specificity in Thermopreference and CO2-Gated Heat-Seeking in Culex Mosquitoes. Insects 2022, 13, 92. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010092

AMA Style

Reinhold JM, Chandrasegaran K, Oker H, Crespo JE, Vinauger C, Lahondère C. Species-Specificity in Thermopreference and CO2-Gated Heat-Seeking in Culex Mosquitoes. Insects. 2022; 13(1):92. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010092

Chicago/Turabian Style

Reinhold, Joanna M., Karthikeyan Chandrasegaran, Helen Oker, José E. Crespo, Clément Vinauger, and Chloé Lahondère. 2022. "Species-Specificity in Thermopreference and CO2-Gated Heat-Seeking in Culex Mosquitoes" Insects 13, no. 1: 92. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010092

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