Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Behavioural and electrophysiological responses of the female malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae (Diptera: Culicidae) to Limburger cheese volatiles

  • Bart G.J. Knols (a1), Joop J.A. van Loon (a1), Alan Cork (a2), Rosemary D. Robinson (a2), Wim Adam (a1), Jocelijn Meijerink (a1), Ruurd De Jong (a1) and Willem Takken (a1)...

Limburger cheese, previously shown to attract female Anopheles gambiae Giles, was solvent extracted and chemically fractionated into acid and non-acid fractions. The extracts and aliquots of headspace odour of the cheese were analysed by gas chromatography and electron impact mass spectrometry. Nineteen saturated and unsaturated aliphatic fatty acids, ranging in carbon chain length from C2 to C18, were detected. The most abundant acids (>1 mg/g of cheese) identified in the acid extract were ethanoic, propanoic, butanoic, hexadecanoic and 9-octadecenoic acid. The same compounds were identified in analyses of headspace samples but only trace quantities of the less volatile acids (C10 to C16) were present, whilst C18 acids were absent. Behavioural responses of female A. gambiae towards a range of dilutions of the acid extract (in diethyl ether) were recorded in a windtunnel bioassay. The undiluted extract was found to be repellent, but became highly attractive (P «0.001) at lower doses, and was still significantly attractive (P<0.001) when diluted 106times. A synthetic mixture of 12 of the more abundant aliphatic acids identified in the acid extract was found to be significantly attractive (P<0.001) when diluted 108 times. Electroantennographic (EAG) studies showed significant and reproducible responses to (saturated) Limburger cheese headspace. At doses higher than 0.1%, the synthetic mixture of 12 acids elicited significantly higher EAG amplitudes than the solvent control (paraffin oil). EAG responses were recorded from mosquitoes stimulated with C5 to C8 acids, that were characterized by significant dose-dependencies. Weaker, though significant EAG responses were obtained with the less volatile acids (C9 to C14). Only hexadecanoic acid did not elicit a detectable response. The electrophysiological and behavioural responses obtained with fatty acids isolated from Limburger cheese suggests that together they could act as a kairomone for female A. gambiae. The implications of this are discussed together with the occurrence and bacterial production of these compounds on human skin.

Corresponding author
*National Institute for Medical Research (Ifakara Centre), PO Box 53, Ifakara, Tanzania.
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

F. Acree , R.B. Turner , H.K. Gouck , M. Beroza & N. Smith (1968) L-lactic acid: a mosquito attractant isolated from humans. Science 161, 13461347.

R.M. Anthony , W.C. Noble & D.G. Pitcher (1992) Characterization of aerobic non-lipophilic coryneforms from human feet. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology 17, 102105.

H.J. Bos & J.J. Laarman (1975) Guinea pig, lysine, cadaverine and estradiol as attractants for the malaria mosquito Anopheles Stephensi. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 18, 161172.

D.A. Carlson , N. Smith , H.K. Gouck & D.R. Godwin (1973) Yellow fever mosquitoes: Compounds related to lactic acid that attract females. Journal of Economic Entomology 66, 329331.

M. Coluzzi , A. Sabatini , V. Petrarca & M.A. Di Deco (1979) Chromosomal differentiation and adaptation to human environments in the Anopheles gambiae complex. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 73, 483497.

A. Cork (1994) Identification of electrophysiologically-active compounds for New World screwworm, Cochliotnyia hominivorax, in larval wound fluid. Medical and Veterinary Entomology 8, 151159.

C. Costantini , G. Gibson , N. Sagnon , A. Della Torre , J. Brady & M. Coluzzi (1996) Mosquito responses to carbon dioxide in a West African Sudan Savanna village. Medical and Veterinary Entomology. 10, 220227.

E.E. Davis & P.G. Sokolove (1976) Lactic acid sensitive receptors on the antennae of the mosquito Aedes aegypti. Journal of Comparative Physiology 105, 4354.

C. De Jong & H.T. Badings (1990) Determination of free fatty acids in milk and cheese. journal of High Resolution Chromatography 13, 9498.

R. De Jong & B.G.J. Knols (1995a) Selection of biting sites on man by two malaria mosquito species. Experientia 51, 8084.

R. De Jong & B.G.J. Knols (1995b) Olfactory responses of host-seeking Anopheles gambiae Giles (Diptera: Culicidae). Acta Tropica 59, 333335.

D.Y. Downing , J.S. Strauss & P.E. Pochi (1969) Variability in the chemical composition of human skin surface lipids. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 53, 322327.

A.M. Fallis & S.M. Smith (1964) Ether extracts from birds and CO2 as attractants for some ornithophilic simuliids. Canadian Journal of Zoology 42, 723730.

F. Kanda , E. Yagi , M. Fukuda , K. Nakajima , T. Ohta & O. Nakata (1990) Elucidation of chemical compounds responsible for foot malodour. British Journal of Dermatology 122, 771776.

B.G.J. Knols & R. De Jong (1996) Limburger cheese as an attractant for the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae s.s. Parasitology Today 12, 159161.

B.G.J. Knols , R. De Jong & W. Takken (1994) Trapping system for testing olfactory responses of the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae in a windtunnel. Medical and Veterinary Entomology 8, 386388.

B.G.J. Knols , R. De Jong & W. Takken (1995) Differential attractiveness of isolated humans to mosquitoes in Tanzania. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 89, 604606.

B. Krotozynski , G. Gabriel & H. O'Neill (1977) Characterization of human expired air: A promising investigative and diagnostic technique. Journal of Chromatographic Science 15, 239244.

V. Lacher (1967) Elektrophysiologische untersuchungen an einzelnen Geruchsrezeptoren auf den Antennen weiblicher Moskitos (Aedes aegypti L.). Journal of Insect Physiology 13, 14611470.

J.W. Mackley & H.E. Brown (1984) Swormlure-4: A new formulation of the Swormlure-2 mixture as an attractant for adult screwworms, Cochliomyia hominivorax (Diptera: Calliphoridae). Journal of Economic Entomology 77, 12641268.

J. Marshall , K.T. Holland & E.M. Gribbon (1988) A comparative study of the cutaneous microflora of normal feet with low and high levels of odour. Journal of Applied Bacteriology 65, 6188.

N. Nicolaides (1974) Skin lipids: Their biochemical uniqueness. Science 186, 1926.

N. Nicolaides , H.C. Fu & G.R. Rice (1968) The skin surface lipids of man compared with those of eighteen species of animals. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 51, 8389.

D.G. Pitcher (1977) Rapid identification of cell wall components as a guide to the classification of aerobic coryneform bacteria from human skin. Journal of Medical Microbiology 10, 439445.

G.D. Price , N. Smith & D.A. Carlson (1979) The attraction of female mosquitoes (Anopheles quadrimaculatus Say) to stored human emanations in conjunction with adjusted levels of relative humidity, temperature and carbon dioxide. Journal of Chemical Ecology 5, 383395.

H.P. Roessler (1961) Versuche zur geruchlichen Anlockung weiblicher Stechmücken (Aedes aegypti L., Culicidae). Zeitschrift für vergleichende Physiologie 44, 184231.

C.E. Schreck , N. Smith , D.A. Carlson , G.D. Price , D. Haile & D.R. Godwin (1981) A material isolated from human hands that attracts female mosquitoes. Journal of Chemical Ecology 8, 429438.

M.E. Sharpe , B.A. Law & B.A. Phillips (1977) Methanethiol production by coryneform bacteria: strains from dairy and human skin sources and Brevibacterium linens. Journal of General Microbiology 101, 345349.

G. Thomas , C.H. Schomaker , T.H. Been , M.J. Van den Berg & H.J. Prijs (1985) Host finding and feeding in Hydrotraea irritans (Diptera: Muscidae): the role of chemical senses. Veterinary Parasitology 18, 209221.

J. Tonzetich (1977) Production and origin of malodor: A review of mechanisms and methods of analysis. Journal of Periodontology 48, 1320.

J.J.A. Van Loon , W.H. Frentz & F.A. Van Eeuwijk (1992) Electroantennogram responses to plant volatiles in two species of Pieris butterflies. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 62, 253260.

G.B. White (1974) Anopheles gambiae complex and disease transmission in Africa. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 68, 278299.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Bulletin of Entomological Research
  • ISSN: 0007-4853
  • EISSN: 1475-2670
  • URL: /core/journals/bulletin-of-entomological-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 14 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 244 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.