In work published this week in Nature: Scientific Reports, a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame's Eck Institute for Global Health, led by Associate Professor Giles Duffield and Assistant Professor Zain Syed of the Department of Biological Sciences, revealed 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 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.
The team also included Matthew M. Champion, Eck Institute for Global Health Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who specializes in proteomics.
Zain Syed, left, Sam Rund, Matt Champion and Giles Duffield synchronize their research Zain Syed, left, Sam Rund, Matt Champion and Giles Duffield synchronize their research
This study utilized mass spectrometry to quantify protein abundance in mosquito sensory organs, and electroantennograms to determine the response induced by host odorants at different times of the day. The coincident times of peak protein abundance, olfactory sensitivity and biting behavior reflect the extraordinarily fine-tuned
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