LSTM Home > LSTM Research > LSTM Online Archive

Taxis assays measure directional movement of mosquitoes to olfactory cues

Lorenz, Lena M, Keane, Aidan, Moore, Jason D, Munk, Cristina J, Seeholzer, Laura, Mseka, Antony, Simfukwe, Emmanuel, Ligamba, Joseph, Turner, Elizabeth L, Biswaro, Lubandwa R, Okumu, Fredros O, Killeen, Gerry ORCID:, Mukabana, Wolfgang R and Moore, Sarah J (2013) 'Taxis assays measure directional movement of mosquitoes to olfactory cues'. Parasites & Vectors, Vol 6, e131.

parasitesandvectors_6_131_2013.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB)



Malaria control methods targeting indoor-biting mosquitoes have limited impact on vectors that feed and rest outdoors. Exploiting mosquito olfactory behaviour to reduce blood-feeding outdoors might be a sustainable approach to complement existing control strategies. Methodologies that can objectively quantify responses to odour under realistic field conditions and allow high-throughput screening of many compounds are required for development of effective odour-based control strategies.


The olfactory responses of laboratory-reared Anopheles gambiae in a semi-field tunnel and A. arabiensis females in an outdoor field setting to three stimuli, namely whole human odour, a synthetic blend of carboxylic acids plus carbon dioxide and CO2 alone at four distances up to 100 metres were measured in two experiments using three-chambered taxis boxes that allow mosquito responses to natural or experimentally-introduced odour cues to be quantified.


Taxis box assays could detect both activation of flight and directional mosquito movement. Significantly more (6-18%) A. arabiensis mosquitoes were attracted to natural human odour in the field up to 30 metres compared to controls, and blended synthetic human odours attracted 20% more A. gambiae in the semi-field tunnel up to 70 metres. Whereas CO2 elicited no response in A. arabiensis in the open field, it was attractive to A. gambiae up to 50 metres (65% attraction compared to 36% in controls).


We have developed a simple reproducible system to allow for the comparison of compounds that are active over medium- to long-ranges in semi-field or full-field environments. Knowing the natural range of attraction of anopheline mosquitoes to potential blood sources has substantial implications for the design of malaria control strategies, and adds to the understanding of olfactory behaviour in mosquitoes. This experimental strategy could also be extended from malaria vectors to other motile arthropods of medical, veterinary and agricultural significance.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:
Subjects: QX Parasitology > Insects. Other Parasites > QX 510 Mosquitoes
QX Parasitology > Insects. Other Parasites > QX 515 Anopheles
QX Parasitology > Insects. Other Parasites > QX 600 Insect control. Tick control
WA Public Health > Preventive Medicine > WA 110 Prevention and control of communicable diseases. Transmission of infectious diseases
WC Communicable Diseases > Tropical and Parasitic Diseases > WC 750 Malaria
WC Communicable Diseases > Tropical and Parasitic Diseases > WC 765 Prevention and control
Faculty: Department: Biological Sciences > Vector Biology Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Samantha Sheldrake
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2013 11:36
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2019 10:12


View details

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item