Variation in energy reserves and role of body size in the mating system of Anopheles gambiae



Anopheles gambiae mates in flight. Males gather at stationary places at sunset and compete for incoming females. Factors that account for male mating success are not known but are critical for the future of any genetic control strategy. The current study explored variations in nutritional reserves (sugars, glycogen, lipids, and proteins) in wild-caught swarming and resting males and evaluated the effect of body size and wing symmetry on male mating success. Our results showed that glycogen and sugar reserves are mobilized for flight. Males consume proportionally 5.9-fold as much energy derived from sugars in swarming activities than when they are at rest. Mated males were on average bigger than unmated ones (P<0.0001). A strong correlation between the left and right wings in both mated and unmated males was found and additional analysis on fluctuating asymmetry did not show any indication of mated males being more symmetrical than unmated ones. The distribution of wing size of mated males was focused around a central value, suggesting that intermediate size of males is advantageous in the An. gambiae mating system. The results are discussed in the context of sexual selection.