We understand little about photopreference and the molecular mechanisms governing vision-dependent behavior in vector mosquitoes. Investigations of the influence of photopreference on adult mosquito behaviors such as endophagy and exophagy and endophily and exophily will enhance our ability to develop and deploy vector-targeted interventions and monitoring techniques. Our laboratory-based analyses have revealed that crepuscular period photopreference differs between An. gambiae and An. stephensi. We employed qRT-PCR to assess crepuscular transcriptional expression patterns of long wavelength-, short wavelength-, and ultraviolet wavelength-sensing opsins (i.e., rhodopsin-class G-protein coupled receptors) in An. gambiae and in An. stephensi. Transcript levels do not exhibit consistent differences between species across diurnal cycles, indicating that differences in transcript abundances within this gene set are not correlated with these behavioral differences. Using developmentally staged and gender-specific RNAseq data sets in An. gambiae, we show that long wavelength-sensing opsins are expressed in two different patterns (one set expressed during larval stages, and one set expressed during adult stages), while short wavelength- and ultraviolet wavelength-sensing opsins exhibit increased expression during adult stages. Genomic organization of An. gambiae opsins suggests paralogous gene expansion of long wavelength-sensing opsins in comparison with An. stephensi. We speculate that this difference in gene number may contribute to variation between these species in photopreference behavior (e.g., visual sensitivity).
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Vol. 52 • No. 3