The maxillary palp of Aedes aegypti, a model of multisensory integration

Jonathan D. Bohbot, Jackson T. Sparks, Joseph C. Dickens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Female yellow-fever mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, are obligate blood-feeders and vectors of the pathogens that cause dengue fever, yellow fever and Chikungunya. This feeding behavior concludes a series of multisensory events guiding the mosquito to its host from a distance. The antennae and maxillary palps play a major role in host detection and other sensory-mediated behaviors. Compared to the antennae, the maxillary palps are a relatively simple organ and thus an attractive model for exploration of the neuromolecular networks underlying chemo- and mechanosensation. In this study, we surveyed the expressed genetic components and examined their potential involvement with these sensory modalities. Using Illumina sequencing, we identified the transcriptome of the maxillary palps of physiologically mature female Ae. aegypti. Genes expressed in the maxillary palps included those involved in sensory reception, signal transduction and neuromodulation. In addition to previously reported chemosensory genes, we identified candidate transcripts potentially involved in mechanosensation and thermosensation. This survey lays the groundwork to explore sensory networks in an insect appendage. The identification of genes involved in thermosensation provides prospective molecular targets for the development of chemicals aimed at disrupting the behavior of this medically important insect.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)29-39
Number of pages11
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Dr. Bryan Vinyard for his contribution to the statistical analyses and Dr. Shawn E. Levy and Nripesh Prasad at the Genomic Services Lab at Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology for Illumina sequencing and data analyses. This work was supported in part by a grant to J.C.D. from the Deployed War Fighter Protection (DWFP) Research Program funded by the Department of Defense through the Armed Forces Pest Management Board (AFPMB) .


  • Aedes aegypti
  • Maxillary palp
  • Mechanosensation
  • Mosquito
  • Olfaction
  • Thermosensation


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