Background. Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes exhibit an endophilic, nocturnal blood feeding behavior. Despite the importance of light as a regulator of malaria transmission, our knowledge on the molecular interactions between environmental cues, the circadian oscillators and the host seeking and feeding systems of the Anopheles mosquitoes is limited. Results. In the present study, we show that the blood feeding behavior of mosquitoes is under circadian control and can be modulated by light pulses, both in a clock dependent and in an independent manner. Short light pulses (∼2-5 min) in the dark phase can inhibit the blood-feeding propensity of mosquitoes momentarily in a clock independent manner, while longer durations of light stimulation (∼1-2 h) can induce a phase advance in blood-feeding propensity in a clock dependent manner. The temporary feeding inhibition after short light pulses may reflect a masking effect of light, an unknown mechanism which is known to superimpose on the true circadian regulation. Nonetheless, the shorter light pulses resulted in the differential regulation of a variety of genes including those implicated in the circadian control, suggesting that light induced masking effects also involve clock components. Light pulses (both short and long) also regulated genes implicated in feeding as well as different physiological processes like metabolism, transport, immunity and protease digestions. RNAi-mediated gene silencing assays of the light pulse regulated circadian factors timeless, cryptochrome and three takeout homologues significantly up-regulated the mosquito's blood-feeding propensity. In contrast, gene silencing of light pulse regulated olfactory factors down-regulated the mosquito's propensity to feed on blood. Conclusion. Our study show that the mosquito's feeding behavior is under circadian control. Long and short light pulses can induce inhibition of blood-feeding through circadian and unknown mechanisms, respectively, that involve the chemosensory system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)