Scientists Discover Mosquito Sperm Have a Sense of Smell

Posted on February 3, 2014

Mosquito sperm


Researchers from Vanderbilt University have discovered that mosquito sperm have a sense of smell. Specialized chemical sensors, called odorant receptors (ORs), were detected in mosquito sperm. The ORs in the sperm are expressed along their tails. Mosquito sperm, which is larger than human sperm, is pictured above in a photomicrograph that has been magnified 50 times.

L.J. Zwiebel, the Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Biological Sciences who directed the study, says in a Vanderbilt news story, "This discovery is really out of the box for us. It is the first time that insect ORs have been found to function in non-sensory cells or tissue. We think this could be an entirely new paradigm for how insect reproduction is regulated. If it is, it could provide a powerful new approach for controlling populations of insects of medical and/or economic importance."

The research was published here in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The new finding could lead to novel ways to stop the spread of the tiny pests. Take a look:



Photo: Jason Pitts/Vanderbilt