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Chem Senses. 2005 Feb;30(2):145-52.

Synergism between ammonia, lactic acid and carboxylic acids as kairomones in the host-seeking behaviour of the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto (Diptera: Culicidae).

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  • 1Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University, PO Box 8031, 6700 EH Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Host odours play a major role in the orientation and host location of blood-feeding mosquitoes. Anopheles gambiae Giles sensu stricto, which is the most important malaria vector in Africa, is a highly anthropophilic mosquito species, and the host-seeking behaviour of the females of this mosquito is guided by volatiles of human origin. Ammonia, lactic acid and several carboxylic acids are known to be present in the human odour blend. We investigated the effect of these compounds on naive female mosquitoes using a dual-port olfactometer. Ammonia was an attractant on its own, whereas lactic acid was not attractive. Carboxylic acids, offered as a mixture of 12 compounds, were repellent at the concentration tested. The addition of ammonia to the carboxylic acid mixture overruled the repellent effect of the latter. Combining ammonia with either lactic acid or the carboxylic acids did not enhance the attractiveness of ammonia alone. However, a synergistic effect was found when ammonia, lactic acid and the carboxylic acids were applied as a blend. Our findings indicate that An. gambiae s.s. relies on the combination of ammonia, lactic acid and carboxylic acids in its orientation to human hosts. The role of lactic acid in this tripartite synergism differs from that reported for the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti.

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