Human skin microbiota and their volatiles as odour baits for the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae s.s

N.O. Verhulst, W.R. Mukabana, W. Takken, R.C. Smallegange

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Host seeking by the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae Giles sensu stricto (Diptera: Culicidae) is mainly guided by volatile chemicals present in human odours. The skin microbiota plays an important role in the production of these volatiles, and skin bacteria grown on agar plates attract An. gambiae s.s. in the laboratory. In this study, the attractiveness of volatiles produced by human skin bacteria to An. gambiae s.s. was tested in laboratory, semi-field, and field experiments to assess these effects in increasing environmental complexity. A synthetic blend of 10 compounds identified in the headspace of skin bacteria was also tested for its attractiveness. Carbon dioxide significantly increased mosquito catches of traps baited with microbial volatiles in the semi-field experiments and was therefore added to the field traps. Traps baited with skin bacteria caught significantly more An. gambiae s.s. than control traps, both in the laboratory and semi-field experiments. Traps baited with the synthetic blend caught more mosquitoes than control traps in the laboratory experiments, but not in the semi-field experiments. Although bacterial volatiles increased mosquito catches in the field study, trapping several mosquito vector species, these effects were not significant for An. gambiae s.l. It is concluded that volatiles from skin bacteria affect mosquito behaviour under laboratory and semi-field conditions and, after fine tuning, have the potential to be developed as odour baits for mosquitoes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-179
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • gas chromatography/mass spectrometry
  • human axillary odor
  • rift-valley-fever
  • mm-x traps
  • western kenya
  • sensu-stricto
  • aedes-aegypti
  • carbon-dioxide
  • host-seeking
  • tsetse-flies


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