• Aedes aegypti;
  • antennal sensilla;
  • olfaction;
  • ORNs;
  • physiology


Mosquitoes are highly dependent on their olfactory system for, e.g. host location and identification of nectar-feeding and oviposition sites. Odours are detected by olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) housed in hair-shaped structures, sensilla, on the antennae and maxillary palps. In order to unravel the function of the olfactory system in the yellow fever vector, Aedes aegypti, we performed single-sensillum recordings from trichoid sensilla on female antennae. These sensilla are divided into four distinct morphological types. Based on the response to a set of 16 odour compounds, we identified 18 different ORN types, housed in 10 sensillum types. The ORNs responded to behaviourally relevant olfactory cues, such as oviposition attractants and sweat-borne compounds, including 4-methylcyclohexanol and indole, respectively. Two ORNs housed in these sensilla, as well as two ORNs housed in an additional sensillum type, did not respond to any of the compounds tested. The ORNs housed in individual sensilla exhibited stereotypical pairing and displayed differences in signalling mode (excitatory and inhibitory) as well as in temporal response patterns. In addition to physiological characterization, we performed anterograde neurobiotin stainings of functionally identified ORNs in order to define the functional map among olfactory glomeruli in the primary olfactory centre, the antennal lobe. The targeted glomeruli were compared with an established 3D map. Our data showed that the ORN types sent their axons to defined antennal lobe glomeruli in a stereotypic pattern.