The Proposed Importance of Chemosensation in Mating in Aedes Species
Currently, mosquito-borne diseases are affecting billions of people worldwide and disproportionally burden the developing world. Despite control efforts, these diseases remain widespread. Studying chemosensation and mating behaviors in mosquito species allows for the development of novel control methods as well as understanding the population dynamics of cohabiting species. The goal of our re3search is to understand mating behavior in these species and the potential role of chemical detection in promoting mating within a species (conspecific), while also inhibiting mating across species (heterospecific). We propose that gustatory receptors are crucial to conspecific recognition and, ultimately, mating specificity. To determine whether Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti would produce viable offspring, mating assays were performed. After four days, microscopic observation of spermathecae, the female sperm storage organ, was used as a metric for determining mating behavior. Out of the 300 spermathecae sampled, we found evidence of high conspecific mating but no evidence of heterospecific mating. Furthermore, these findings suggest that wild Ae. albopictus and Ae. aegypti populations do not possess satyrization potential. To identify candidate GRs in Ae. Aegypti and Ae. Albopictus, their genomes were compared to GR sequences from Drosophila melanogaster using BLAST searches. RNA sequencing data confirms that candidate GRs are being expressed in tarsi and labella of both sexes. Despite published accounts of satyrization in some wild populations of Ae. albopictus and Ae. aegypti, we found no evidence in a local population. Our research provides a foundation for future genetic studies that can experimentally test the hypothesis that GRs are involved in mate recognition between these two closely related species.