Multimodal integration of carbon dioxide and other sensory cues drives mosquito attraction to humans

Cell. 2014 Feb 27;156(5):1060-71. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.12.044.


Multiple sensory cues emanating from humans are thought to guide blood-feeding female mosquitoes to a host. To determine the relative contribution of carbon dioxide (CO2) detection to mosquito host-seeking behavior, we mutated the AaegGr3 gene, a subunit of the heteromeric CO2 receptor in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Gr3 mutants lack electrophysiological and behavioral responses to CO2. These mutants also fail to show CO2-evoked responses to heat and lactic acid, a human-derived attractant, suggesting that CO2 can gate responses to other sensory stimuli. Whereas attraction of Gr3 mutants to live humans in a large semi-field environment was only slightly impaired, responses to an animal host were greatly reduced in a spatial-scale-dependent manner. Synergistic integration of heat and odor cues likely drive host-seeking behavior in the absence of CO2 detection. We reveal a networked series of interactions by which multimodal integration of CO2, human odor, and heat orchestrates mosquito attraction to humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Blood
  • Carbon Dioxide*
  • Humans
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Insect Vectors / physiology
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism
  • Odorants
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / genetics
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism


  • Insect Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Lactic Acid