Electrophysiological responses of receptor neurons in mosquito maxillary palp sensilla to carbon dioxide

J Comp Physiol A. 1995 Oct;177(4):389-96. doi: 10.1007/BF00187475.


Sensilla basiconica on the maxillary palps of female Aedes aegypti contain a receptor neuron which produces a phasic-tonic pattern of action potential response to low concentrations (150-300 ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2), a stimulus known to be involved with host seeking behavior. These receptor neurons respond reliably to small increments in CO2 concentration (e.g., 50 ppm). We were particularly interested in evaluating the possibility that the sensitivity to step increases in CO2 concentration could be modulated by alterations in the background levels of CO2, over a range which might be encountered during host-seeking behavior. We report here that the response (impulses/s) to a single pulse of a given concentration of CO2 appears to be independent of the background level of CO2, unless that level is equal to or greater than the concentration of the stimulus pulse. Females of other mosquito species, including: Anopheles stephensi, Culex quinquefasciatus, Culiseta melanura, and Aedes taeniorhynchus, also possess sensilla with receptor neurons that respond with comparable sensitivity to CO2 stimulation. However, there is much interspecific variation in both the external morphology of the maxillary palp and the distribution of sensilla along the palp. Male Ae. aegypti have morphologically similar sensilla which also contain a receptor neuron that responds to CO2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Carbon Dioxide / pharmacology*
  • Culicidae
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electrophysiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Maxilla / drug effects*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Carbon Dioxide