Background Olfactory cues drive mosquito behaviors such as host-seeking, locating sugar sources and oviposition. These behaviors can vary between sexes and closely related species. For example, the malaria vector Anopheles coluzzii is highly anthropophilic, whereas An. quadriannulatus is not. These behavioral differences may be reflected in chemosensory gene expression. Methods The expression of chemosensory genes in the antennae of both sexes of An. coluzzii and An. quadriannulatus was compared using RNA-seq. The sex-biased expression of several genes in An. coluzzii was also compared using qPCR. Results The chemosensory expression is mostly similar in the male antennae of An. coluzzii and An. quadriannulatus, with only a few modest differences in expression. A handful of chemosensory genes are male-biased in both species; the highly expressed gustatory receptor AgGr33, odorant binding proteins AgObp25, AgObp26 and possibly AgObp10. Although the chemosensory gene repertoire is mostly shared between the sexes, several highly female-biased AgOrs, AgIrs, and one AgObp were identified, including several whose expression is biased towards the anthropophilic An. coluzzii. Additionally, the expression of several chemosensory genes is biased towards An. coluzzii in both sexes. Conclusions Chemosensory gene expression is broadly similar between species and sexes, but several sex- biased/specific genes were identified. These may modulate sex- and species-specific behaviors. Although the male behavior of these species remains poorly studied, the identification of sex- and species-specific chemosensory genes may provide fertile ground for future work.
- Host seeking