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Microarray-based survey of a subset of putative olfactory genes in the mosquito Anopheles gambiae


Harald Biessmann, Developmental Biology Center, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA. Tel.: +1 949 824 2185; fax: +1 949 824 2688; e-mail:


Female Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes respond to odours emitted from humans in order to find a blood meal, while males are nectar feeders. This complex behaviour is controlled at several levels, but is probably initiated by the interaction of various molecules in the antennal sensilla. Important molecules in the early odour recognition events include odourant binding proteins (OBPs), which may be involved in odour molecule transport, odourant receptors (ORs) that are expressed in the chemosensory neurones and odour degrading enzymes (ODEs). To obtain a better understanding of the expression patterns of genes that may be involved in host odour reception in females, we generated a custom microarray to study their steady state mRNA levels in chemosensory tissues, antennae and palps. These results were supported by quantitative RT PCR. Our study detected several OBPs that are expressed at significantly higher levels in antennae and palps of females vs. males, while others showed the opposite expression pattern. Most OBPs are slightly down-regulated 24 h after blood feeding, but some, especially those with higher expression levels in males, are up-regulated in blood-fed females, suggesting a shift in blood-fed females from human host seeking to nectar feeding.