Adults of many mosquito species feed on plants to obtain metabolic energy and to enhance reproduction. Mosquitoes primarily rely on olfaction to locate plants and are known to respond to a range of plant volatiles. We studied the olfactory response of the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti to methyl jasmonate (MeJA) and cis-jasmone (CiJA), volatile compounds originating from the octadecanoid signaling pathway that plays a key role in plant defense against herbivores. Specifically, we investigated how Ae. aegypti of different ages responded to elevated levels of CiJA in two attractive odor contexts, either derived from Lima bean plants or human skin. Aedes aegypti females landed significantly less often on a surface with CiJA and MeJA compared to the solvent control, CiJA exerting a stronger reduction in landing than MeJA. Odor context (plant or human) had no significant main effect on the olfactory responses of Ae. aegypti females to CiJA. Mosquito age significantly affected the olfactory response, older females (7–9 d) responding more strongly to elevated levels of CiJA than young females (1–3 d) in either odor context. Our results show that avoidance of CiJA by Ae. aegypti is independent of odor background, suggesting that jasmonates are inherently aversive cues to these mosquitoes. We propose that avoidance of plants with elevated levels of jasmonates is adaptive to mosquitoes to reduce the risk of encountering predators that is higher on these plants, i.e. by avoiding ‘enemy-dense-space’.
|Journal||Journal of Chemical Ecology|
|Publication status||Published - 31 Aug 2021|
- Human odor
- Jasmonic acid
- Plant defense
- Plant volatiles