Mating choices may reduce yellow fever mosquito populations

Avoidance mechanisms in mating may reduce yellow fever mosquito populations | Courtesy of
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers have discovered that female Asian tiger mosquitoes that choose the wrong male for mating may reduce yellow fever mosquito populations.

Both male and female Asian tiger mosquitoes transmit dengue and chikungunya fever to humans. These illnesses are dangerous to humans, and millions of people around the world contract the illnesses every year.

Scientists who studied the mating habits of the Asian tiger and yellow fever mosquitoes discovered that wild yellow fever mosquitoes have developed avoidance mechanisms that may allow researchers to predict any alternations within the two mosquito populations.

Between 1 and 3 percent of these mosquitoes mated in the wild. Even though the two species can mate, they cannot have offspring and their mating actually sterilizes the female yellow fever mosquito. This enables the Asian tiger mosquito population to cut out the yellow fever mosquito when the two species share their ecosystems.

Alternatively, a female Asian tiger mosquito is able to mate with a male yellow fever mosquito first and then a male Asian tiger mosquito second and still have offspring. The proteins from the male yellow fever mosquito to the female do not trigger a rejection, while a female yellow fever mosquito cannot remate and have offspring after mating with a male Asian tiger mosquito.

Further details have been published in the Infection, Genetics and Evolution journal.

Organizations in this story

University of Florida's Institute of Food Agriculture Sciences Mid-Florida Research & Education Center 2725 Binion Road Apopka, FL 32703

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences 200 9th St SE Vero Beach, FL 32962

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