Researchers from the University of Notre Dame's Eck Institute for Global Health, have found that the major malaria vector in Africa, the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, is able to smell major human host odorants better at night.
The study reports an integrative approach to examine the mosquito's ability to smell across the 24-hour day and involved proteomic, sensory physiological, and behavioral techniques.
The researchers, led by Associate Professor Giles Duffield and Assistant Professor Zain Syed of the Department of Biological Sciences, examined the role for a major chemosensory family of mosquito proteins, odorant-binding proteins (OBPs), in the daily regulation of olfactory sensitivities in the malarial mosquito.
It is thought that OBPs in the insect antennae and mouth parts function to concentrate odorant molecules and assist in their transport to the actual olfactory receptors, thereby allowing for odorant detection.
The team revealed daily rhythmic protein abundance of OBPs, having higher concentrations in the mosquito's sensory organs at night than during the day.
This discovery could change the way we look at protecting ourselves from these disease-carrying pests.
This work provides the first comprehensive evidence of the important role of daily rhythms in the sensory biology of Anopheles gambiae and the implications for developing new control methods.
The study is published in the journal Nature. (ANI)