Curr Opin Insect Sci.: auth.: R. Benton


Insect disease vectors display diverse feeding preferences and regimes.

Taste organs and receptors exhibit species-specific variations on common themes.

Gustatory behaviors are plastic through reproductive cycles, experience and evolution.

Some insect repellents act by modulating feeding behaviors.

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.