Adult female mosquitoes rely on carbohydrate-rich plant nectars as their main source of energy. In the present study we tested whether the deprivation of a carbohydrate dietary source or the deprivation of both carbohydrate and water affects mosquito heart physiology. Intravital video imaging of Anopheles gambiae showed that, relative to sucrose fed mosquitoes, the deprivation of both sucrose and water for 24h, but not the deprivation of sucrose alone, reduces the heart contraction rate. Measurement of the protein, carbohydrate and lipid content of mosquitoes in the three treatment groups did not explain this cardiac phenotype. However, while the deprivation of sucrose reduced mosquito weight and abdominal width, the deprivation of both sucrose and water reduced mosquito weight even further without augmenting the change in abdominal width, indirectly suggesting that starvation and dehydration reduces hemolymph pressure. Analysis of the mRNA levels of crustacean cardioactive peptide (CCAP), FMRFamide, corazonin, neuropeptide F and short neuropeptide F then suggested that these neuropeptides do not regulate the cardiac phenotype observed. However, relative to sucrose fed and sucrose deprived mosquitoes, the mRNA level of nitric oxide synthase (NOS) was significantly elevated in mosquitoes that had been deprived of both sucrose and water. Given that nitric oxide suppresses the heart rate of vertebrates and invertebrates, these data suggest a role for this free radical in modulating mosquito heart physiology.
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