PerspectiveInfectious Diseases

Drivers of mosquito mating

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Science  22 Jan 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6527, pp. 340-341
DOI: 10.1126/science.abf7917

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Summary

At first glance, the sex lives of mosquitoes may seem an esoteric topic. Yet, elucidating the details of mosquito mating may affect hundreds of millions of human lives each year. Anopheles mosquitoes are the principal vectors of the parasites that cause malaria in Africa, where in 2018, 93% of the world's estimated 228 million cases and 94% of its 405,000 malaria deaths occurred (1). On page 411 of this issue, Wang et al. (2) link clock gene expression, light, and temperature to the formation of male swarms and mating of Anopheles mosquitoes. They also suggest a role for the desaturase 1 (desat1) gene in the production of the cuticular hydrocarbon (surface chemicals that serve multiple roles for insects) heptacosane, which they found stimulates mating. These findings add to our knowledge of molecular factors and their interaction with the environment that together drive mating behavior in these mosquitoes.

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