Anopheles mating is initiated by the swarming of males at dusk followed by females flying into the swarm. Here, we show that mosquito swarming and mating are coordinately guided by clock genes, light, and temperature. Transcriptome analysis shows up-regulation of the clock genes period (per) and timeless (tim) in the head of field-caught swarming Anopheles coluzzii males. Knockdown of per and tim expression affects Anopheles gambiae s.s. and Anopheles stephensi male mating in the laboratory, and it reduces male An. coluzzii swarming and mating under semifield conditions. Light and temperature affect mosquito mating, possibly by modulating per and/or tim expression. Moreover, the desaturase gene desat1 is up-regulated and rhythmically expressed in the heads of swarming males and regulates the production of cuticular hydrocarbons, including heptacosane, which stimulates mating activity.
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