Get access

Behavioural responses of Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto to components of human breath, sweat and urine depend on mixture composition and concentration


Yu T. Qiu, Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University, PO Box 8031, 6700 EH Wageningen, the Netherlands. Tel.: +31 320 291227; Fax: + 31 320 230479; E-mail:


Host-seeking behaviour of the anthropophilic malaria vector Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto (Diptera: Culicidae) is mediated predominantly by olfactory cues. Several hundreds of odour components have been identified from human emanations, but only a few have been proven to act as attractants or synergists in the host-seeking behaviour of female An. gambiae. In previous work, aromatics, alcohols and ketones in human odours were found to elicit electrophysiological activity in antennal olfactory neurons of female An. gambiae. However, the behavioural effects of these compounds have not been investigated. In this study, behavioural responses of female An. gambiae to components of human breath, urine and sweat at a series of concentrations, or a single concentration in the case of acetone, were examined in combination with ammonia and L-lactic acid in a dual-choice olfactometer. The results showed that at specific concentrations 4-ethylphenol, indole, 3-methyl-1-butanol and two ketones inhibited the attractive effect of a mixture of ammonia and lactic acid. Acetone on its own was not attractive; however, when combined with lactic acid, the binary mixture was attractive. When combined with ammonia, acetone inhibited the attractiveness exerted by ammonia alone. Dodecanol and dimethyldisulphide did not affect the attraction exerted by ammonia and lactic acid at any of the concentrations tested. By contrast, a human-specific armpit odour, 7-octenoic acid, augmented the attraction exerted by the combination of ammonia and lactic acid at a specific dosage.