Researchers at Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have mapped the neuroanatomical regions of the brain of a female mosquito (Aedes aegypti). The researchers constructed the map of groups of neurons by immunostaining the mosquito’s brain for Brp, a synaptic protein, and imaged the brain with confocal microscopy. The atlas was made freely available online on January 31st.
“We are trying to build the field of mosquito neurobiology,” says HHMI neurobiologist Leslie Vosshall, who led the work, in a press release. She says she hopes that the new atlas will let mosquito researchers from around the world share data and better understand which parts of the mosquito brain direct different behaviors.
“Somewhere in that female brain is the drive to sense humans, fly toward humans, land on humans, and bite and drink the blood of humans,” she says. “Somewhere in that brain is where decision making, motivation, and hunger reside.”