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The role of grass volatiles on oviposition site selection by Anopheles arabiensis and Anopheles coluzzii

The role of grass volatiles on oviposition site selection by Anopheles arabiensis and Anopheles coluzzii

Asmare, Yelfwagash, Hill, Sharon R., Hopkins, Richard J. ORCID: 0000-0003-4935-5825, Tekie, Habte and Ignell, Rickard (2017) The role of grass volatiles on oviposition site selection by Anopheles arabiensis and Anopheles coluzzii. Malaria Journal, 16 (65). pp. 1-9. ISSN 1475-2875 (Online) (doi:

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The reproductive success and population dynamics, of Anopheles malaria mosquitoes is strongly influenced by the oviposition site selection of gravid females. Mosquitoes select oviposition sites at different spatial scales, starting with selecting a habitat in which to search. This study utilizes the association of larval abundance in the field with natural breeding habitats, dominated by various types of wild grasses, as a proxy for oviposition site selection by gravid mosquitoes. Moreover, the role of olfactory cues emanating from these habitats in the attraction and oviposition stimulation of females was analysed.

The density of Anopheles larvae in breeding sites associated with Echinochloa pyramidalis, Echinochloa stagnina, Typha latifolia and Cyperus papyrus, was sampled and the larvae identified to species level. Headspace volatile extracts of the grasses were collected and used to assess behavioural attraction and oviposition stimulation of gravid Anopheles arabiensis and Anopheles coluzzii mosquitoes in wind tunnel and two-choice oviposition assays, respectively. The ability of the mosquitoes to differentiate among the grass volatile extracts was tested in multi-choice tent assays.

Anopheles arabiensis larvae were the most abundant species found in the various grass-associated habitats. The larval densities described a hierarchical distribution, with Poaceae (Echinochloa pyramidalis and Echinochloa stagnina)-associated habitat sites demonstrating higher densities than that of Typha-associated sites, and where larvae were absent from Cyperus-associated sites. This hierarchy was maintained by gravid An. arabiensis and An. coluzzii mosquitoes in attraction, oviposition and multi-choice assays to grass volatile extracts.

The demonstrated hierarchical preference of gravid An. coluzzii and An. arabiensis for grass volatiles indicates that vegetation cues associated with larval habitats are instrumental in the oviposition site choice of the malaria mosquitoes. Identifying volatile cues from grasses that modulate gravid malaria mosquito behaviours has distinct potential for the development of tools to be used in future monitoring and control methods.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mosquito; Anopheles arabiensis; Anopheles coluzzii; Egg laying; Oviposition
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Pest Behaviour Research Group
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2019 14:11
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: GREAT a
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None

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