Munich Neuroscience Calendar


21.12.2018, 12:15 Graduate School of Neuroscience
until 13:15
Event Type: Talk
Speaker: Jörg Albert
Institute: UCL

Title: Neurolunch: Making noise to boost the signal, distorting sound to find the tone: Hearing and acoustic communication in mosquito swarms

GSN Seminar Room D00.003
Großhaderner Str. 2
82152 Martinsried

Host: Benedikt Grothe
Host Email:
Like many Dipteran insects, mosquitoes use sound to identify, locate, and assess, their mating partners (1). In the majority of cases, the corresponding acoustic communication takes place during mid-flight, often within larger swarms. During the acoustic interactions, the mosquitoes’ wingbeats - inevitable sound emissions of flying mosquitoes – are being modulated, now co-opting as courtship signals. On the sensory side, antennal flagella act as sound receivers, which transmit the sound-associated forces to specialised mechanoreceptor neurons within Johnston’s Organ (JO). JO is a chordotonal organ (ChO) that forms part of the flight control system across insects; with up to 16,000 mechanosensory neurons in males, the mosquito JO here being the largest and most sensitive of them all, also exceeding energy gains and displacement sensitivities of vertebrate inner ear hair cells by a factor of ~ 100 (2).
The seminar will present some recent results - and emerging hypotheses - on the function of the mosquito ear across three biomedically important vector species (the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae, the yellow and dengue fever mosquito Aedes aegypti and the West Nile fever vector Culex quinquefasciatus). Using the fruit fly ear as a model, the auditory performance of male and female ears will be compared across the three species, in an attempt to reconstruct the auditory (and reproductive) ecology of mosquitoes from the biophysical operation of their ears.
1. Joerg T. Albert, Andrei S. Kozlov, Comparative Aspects of Hearing in Vertebrates and Insects with Antennal Ears. Curr Biol 26, R1050-R1061 (2016).
2. M. P. Su, M. Andrés, N. Boyd-Gibbins, J. Somers, J. T. Albert, Sex and species specific hearing mechanisms in mosquito flagellar ears. Nature Communications 9, 3911 (2018).

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