D.N. LAPSHIN, D.D. VORONTSOV

FREQUENCY ORGANIZATION OF THE JONSTON ORGAN IN MALE MOSQUITOES (DIPTERA, CULICIDAE)

The Johnston's organs (JO) of mosquitoes are the most complex mechanosensitive organs yet found in insects. Previous findings on the behavior of mosquitoes suggest that, together with exceptional sensitivity, their auditory system can discriminate frequencies. Analysis of compound responses of the JO did not provide unambiguous evidence of such discrimination, nor did it help to find its mechanism. Using the feedback stimulation method, we measured the tuning frequencies of the JO sensory neurons. Here we present electrophysiological evidence that male mosquitoes of Culex pipiens possess at least eight groups of auditory neurons that are distinct in their frequency tuning, with individual frequencies ranging from 85 to 470 Hz. Most of the neurons are tuned to 190-270 Hz, which corresponds to the difference between male and female flight tones. Axons of the JO sensory units propagate graded amplified receptor potentials rather than all-or-none action potentials, are grouped into pairs or triplets and often respond in anti-phase to each other. Some features of the mosquito auditory system suggest an analogy to the retinal mechanisms. Together with our previous findings on frequency tuning in female mosquitoes of different species, this study presents evidence in favor of sophisticated frequency analysis of sound in mosquitoes.

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