CORDIS - EU research results

Understanding the roles of pathogen infection and sensory cue integration in mosquito blood-feeding behavior

Project description

Staging a mosquito banquet

According to the World Health Organisation, mosquitoes are among the deadliest of nature's creatures. They spread diseases, killing millions of people every year. Although it might seem relatively straightforward to get a handle on the feeding behaviours of mosquitoes, in fact, it has proven quite difficult largely due to the lack of appropriate technology. That is all changing with an engineered human skin, transparent and under observation via sophisticated quantitative imaging and computer vision. The PiQiMosqBite project plans to lay out the bait, inviting mosquitoes to dine on the biomimetic skin and vasculature. The high-tech imaging will enable scientists to evaluate how infected mosquitoes behave, process sensory cues, and inject saliva for clues to preventing disease spread.


Mosquitoes serve as vectors for diseases including dengue and malaria, for which half the world's population is at risk. Mosquito-borne pathogens are transmitted during blood feeding, yet despite its crucial role in pathogen transmission, blood feeding behavior remains ill understood. The sensory integration of physical and chemical cues on the skin and below its surface, and the effect of pathogen infection on blood feeding are poorly characterized. These knowledge gaps are due to a lack of tools to quantitatively study blood feeding behavior. To overcome these limitations, I propose an innovative approach to study blood feeding by leveraging quantitative imaging, computer vision, and an engineered human skin mimic to create a high-throughput behavioral assay. Imaging mosquitoes feeding on a transparent skin mimic will enable the detailed characterization of the behavioral trajectory leading to blood feeding while simultaneously allowing the analysis of biting dynamics by imaging the expectoration of saliva. To unravel the behavioral effects of pathogen infection, I will compare blood feeding by non-infected Aedes aegypti (the main dengue vector) and Anopheles gambiae (an important malaria vector) with their dengue virus and Plasmodium falciparum infected counterparts. Next, I will use microfabricaton to embed artificial vasculature in the skin mimic to dissect the sensory cue integration underlying blood feeding. I will characterize the biting dynamics of mutant Aedes aegypti deficient in various sensory pathways feeding on skin mimics that present a defined set of cues. By combining my skills in biophysics with the host labs expertise in mosquito-pathogen interactions, this project will provide a deep understanding of the neurobiology underlying blood feeding by mosquitoes, and the effect that pathogen infections may have on this behavior. Elucidating the transmission of mosquito-borne pathogens will provide valuable insights to combat mosquito-borne diseases.


Net EU contribution
€ 196 707,84
75724 Paris

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 196 707,84