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Annu Rev Entomol. 2013;58:433-53. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-120811-153618. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

Host preferences of blood-feeding mosquitoes.

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Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University and Research Center, 6700 EH Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Mosquitoes use plant sugars and vertebrate blood as nutritional resources. When searching for blood hosts, some mosquitoes express preferential behavior for selected species. Here, we review the available knowledge on host preference, as this is expected to affect the life history and transmission of infectious pathogens. Host preference is affected by myriad extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Inherent factors are determined by genetic selection, which appears to be controlled by adaptive advantages that result from feeding on certain host species. Host preference of mosquitoes, although having a genetic basis, is characterized by high plasticity mediated by the density of host species, which by their abundance form a readily accessible source of blood. Host-selection behavior in mosquitoes is an exception rather than the rule. Those species that express strong and inherent host-selection behavior belong to the most important vectors of infectious diseases, which suggests that this behavioral trait may have evolved in parallel with parasite-host evolution.

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