Talking about the sex life of the female Aedes aegypti mosquito, bringer of Zika, dengue, and yellow fever: She mates but once, in seconds and on the wing, with one lucky male; spurns all further advances from other potential suitors; and stores enough sperm from that single encounter to lay more than 500 eggs, which she nourishes with the blood of human hosts.
Understanding her sexual conduct could help keep her from transmitting the lethal illnesses she conveys to a large number of individuals consistently. However, a significant number of the components overseeing her mating propensities remain a puzzle.
Scientists did not actually want to leak the secrets of the mosquito boudoir because they wanted to learn more about the biology behind female mosquitoes’ host-seeking behaviors. Particularly, inquisitive about the pretended by a little protein called HP-I.
Many previous studies suggest that this molecule is delivered fundamentally by male Ae. aegypti, and exchanged amid sex to females, in whom it goes on for just two hours.
Scientists invalidated discoveries from different investigations. Be that as it may, which had proposed that HP-I smothers the female’s desire to search out human hosts. Scientists later on combined guys and females, including both mutant mosquitoes that were hereditarily adjusted to create for all intents and purposes no HP-I, and typical (or “wild-sort”) ones.
Subsequent to giving their subjects a chance to mate with each other in different blends, the group searched for changes in the females’ host-chasing conduct. Yet, regardless of with whom they had mated, the females stayed similarly as enthused about discovering individuals to chomp.
Researchers have long realized that female Ae. aegypti mate just once, a marvel known as monandry; however they didn’t know why. Given that HP-I is exchanged to the female alongside the male’s semen, Duvall and her associates thought about whether it may assume a part in turning off her sex drive.
To test that theory, the group by and by presented females to guys that created HP-I, and guys that didn’t. In any case, this time, they included a third gathering of suitors: guys that delivered HP-I, yet were hereditarily altered with the goal that their posterity would sparkle splendid blue when seen through a fluorescent magnifying lens.
By giving the females distinctive mixes of fluorescent and non-fluorescent guys (i.e., fluorescent guys together with non-fluorescent guys that created HP-I, versus fluorescent guys together with non-fluorescent guys that needed HP-I), the analysts could decide when the females were ready to acknowledge just a single mate—and when they were eager to play the field.
The results of this mosquito paternity test were definitive: females that got a dose of HP-I during sex and then were offered another mate within an hour remained loyal to their initial partners, while females that got no HP-I did not.
Simply injecting HP-I directly into females was enough to trick the insects into thinking they had already mated, leading them to reject genuine warm-blooded males.
Scientists discovered that HP-I may help explain this curious reproductive pattern, as well: while the Ae. albopictus version of HP-I activates a receptor in Ae. aegypti females, the Ae. aegypti version of this protein does not activate the corresponding receptor in Ae. albopictus.
As a result, scientists now have a much better understanding of what shapes female mating behavior not only within one dangerous mosquito species but across two of them. And scientists believe that this could have far-reaching implications.