For insect vectors of human diseases, mealtimes are a key moment of infection. Understanding how and when such species decide on what to feed is both an interesting problem in sensory neurobiology and a source of information for intervention of these behaviors to control spread of infectious agents. Here I review the current knowledge of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of gustation in insect disease vectors, covering blood-feeders as well as scavengers that spread pathogens indirectly. I also consider how these behaviors are modulated over short and long timescales, and describe efforts to artificially modulate them. Though a relatively nascent field, gustatory neurobiology in insect vectors has much promise for future fundamental discoveries and practical applications.
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- PMID: 28602232