Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Parasit Vectors. 2009 Apr 22;2(1):19. doi: 10.1186/1756-3305-2-19.

Effect of sugar on male Anopheles gambiae mating performance, as modified by temperature, space, and body size.

Author information

  • 1Department of Entomology, Aronoff Laboratory, 318 West 12th Avenue, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA, 43210-1242.



Anopheles gambiae plant-sugar feeding was thought to be rare and physiologically optional. Unlike adult females, males have no alternative source of energy and soon die with only water, yet they might be competent to inseminate all females within their brief lifespan. This study was designed to detect sugar's effect, if any, on male performance.


Males with and without 20% sucrose were evaluated at two body sizes and two temperatures, 23 degrees and 27 degrees C. Survival was recorded twice daily, and sexual behaviour was recorded each night after adult emergence. Insemination at a 2:1 male:female ratio was examined in three cage sizes, including walk-in mesocosms.


Without sugar, males of both sizes lived longer at 23 degrees than 27 degrees C, and large males lived longer at each temperature. Survival of large males at low temperature averaged 3.7 days, small males at high temperature, 1.9 days. With sugar, males in all four treatments suffered minimal mortality. With sugar, in small cages, large males at 27 degrees C matured most rapidly. A few erected fibrillae and inseminated females on night 1. On night 2, maximal proportions erected fibrillae and swarmed, and over one-third of females became inseminated. Small sugar-fed males at 23 degrees C matured most slowly but had achieved nearly maximal levels of swarming by night 3. By night 5, small males had inseminated more than half the females, and large males had inseminated nearly all of them. Without sugar, large males progressed similarly during the first two nights. On night 3, however, the proportion erecting fibrillae and swarming declined precipitously at 27 degrees C, and to a lesser degree at 23 degrees C. Cumulative insemination never reached high levels. Small males never achieved high levels of fibrillar erection or swarming and inseminated few females, even at 23 degrees C. In larger cages and under more semi-natural conditions, regardless of body size, without sugar male insemination capacity was virtually nonexistent.


Under some conditions, a limited number of sugar-deprived males can survive long enough to inseminate females. However, in nature males that cannot obtain sugar at frequent intervals will not be competitive with those that can, suggesting that male performance is closely tied to plant communities.

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center