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Mosquito antennae provide sensory input that modulates host-seeking, mating and oviposition behaviors. Thus, mosquitoes must ensure the efficient transport of molecules into and out of these appendages. To accomplish this, mosquitoes and other insects have evolved antennal accessory pulsatile organs (APOs) that drive hemolymph into the antennal space. This study characterizes the structural mechanics of hemolymph propulsion throughout the antennae of Anopheles gambiae. Using intravital video imaging, we show that mosquitoes possess paired antennal APOs that are located on each side of the head's dorsal midline. They are situated between the frons and the vertex in an area that is dorsal to the antenna but ventral to the medial-most region of the compound eyes. Antennal APOs contract in synchrony at 1 Hz, which is 45% slower than the heart. By means of histology and intravital imaging, we show that each antennal APO propels hemolymph into the antenna through an antennal vessel that traverses the length of the appendage and has an effective diameter of 1-2 μm. When hemolymph reaches the end of the appendage, it is discharged into the antennal hemocoel and returns to the head. Because a narrow vessel empties into a larger cavity, hemolymph travels up the antenna at 0.2 mm s(-1) but reduces its velocity by 75% as it returns to the head. Finally, treatment of mosquitoes with the anesthetic agent FlyNap (triethylamine) increases both antennal APO and heart contraction rates. In summary, this study presents a comprehensive functional characterization of circulatory physiology in the mosquito antennae.
© 2014. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.