Chemical ecology and olfaction in arthropod vectors of diseases

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Hematophagous arthropods (ticks and insects, collectively hereafter referred to as vectors) transmit various life threatening diseases resulting in over one million human deaths annually. Exploiting vertebrates for blood demanded extensive sensory and behavioral adaptations that are apparent across the evolutionary range of vector species, from primitive ticks to advanced dipterans. Since animal senses are biological features that have been shaped by natural selection to promote adaptive behavior, a variety of exciting patterns are apparent in what they sense and how. Vectors display robust olfactory driven behaviors. A distinct yet limited range of volatile organic compounds are parsimoniously used as major cues for tracking in various contexts. These chemicals elicit behaviors such as attraction or repulsion/avoidance while vectors seek habitats, hosts, mates, or oviposition sites. Interestingly, there is a substantial consilience among olfactory structures and function in arthropod vectors, which is also reflected in the parsimonious use of chemical ligands. A detailed analysis of chemosensory signals and reception by these arthropod vectors can be exploited to identify natural ligands that can be used as baits to manipulate vector behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-89
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Insect Science
StatePublished - May 28 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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