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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #290111

Title: Neuromolecular basis of repellent action

item Dickens, Joseph
item Bohbot, Jonathan

Submitted to: Insect Repellents Handbook. 2nd edition
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/18/2013
Publication Date: 1/1/2015
Citation: Dickens, J.C., Bohbot, J.D. 2015. Neuromolecular basis of repellent action. Insect Repellents Handbook. 2nd edition. New York, NY: CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group. p.31-42.

Interpretive Summary: Insect repellents are an important means of limiting contacts between humans and disease vectors such as mosquitoes. Until recently, the mode of action of insect repellents was poorly understood. Now molecular studies have advanced our understanding of how these compounds affect insect behavior. Here we discuss our current understanding of how repellents have their effects on the senses of smell and taste at the molecular level and how this knowledge might be used to discover new compounds with novel or enhanced activity. Our examination of current knowledge of the mode of action of repellents provides the framework of humans and animals from disease vectors.

Technical Abstract: Physical contact is not required for insect repellents to affect mosquito behavior; DEET not only interferes with the detection of host and oviposition sites suggesting the involvement of the olfactory pathway, but it also deters feeding, perhaps indicating involvement of the gustatory sense. However, the broad-activity of these compounds and their required quantities to repel arthropods are puzzling characteristics. More confounding is that DEET and other insect repellents do not prevent long-range attraction but rather perturb mosquito behavior at relatively close range. Here we present current knowledge of the mode of action of repellents emphasizing what is known about the neuromolecular processes involved with special emphasis on studies involving mosquitoes.