Search tips
Search criteria 


Logo of procbThe Royal Society PublishingProceedings BAboutBrowse by SubjectAlertsFree Trial
Proc Biol Sci. 2001 February 22; 268(1465): 333–339.
PMCID: PMC1088611

Active auditory mechanics in mosquitoes.


In humans and other vertebrates, hearing is improved by active contractile properties of hair cells. Comparable active auditory mechanics is now demonstrated in insects. In mosquitoes, Johnston's organ transduces sound-induced vibrations of the antennal flagellum. A non-muscular 'motor' activity enhances the sensitivity and tuning of the flagellar mechanical response in physiologically intact animals. This motor is capable of driving the flagellum autonomously, amplifying sound-induced vibrations at specific frequencies and intensities. Motor-related electrical activity of Johnston's organ strongly suggests that mosquito hearing is improved by mechanoreceptor motility.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (1.1M).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Bermingham NA, Hassan BA, Price SD, Vollrath MA, Ben-Arie N, Eatock RA, Bellen HJ, Lysakowski A, Zoghbi HY. Math1: an essential gene for the generation of inner ear hair cells. Science. 1999 Jun 11;284(5421):1837–1841. [PubMed]
  • Boo KS, Richards AG. Fine structure of scolopidia in Johnston's organ of female Aedes aegypti compared with that of the male. J Insect Physiol. 1975 May;21(5):1129–1139. [PubMed]
  • Dallos P. The active cochlea. J Neurosci. 1992 Dec;12(12):4575–4585. [PubMed]
  • Eberl DF. Feeling the vibes: chordotonal mechanisms in insect hearing. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1999 Aug;9(4):389–393. [PubMed]
  • Göpfert MC, Robert D. Nanometre-range acoustic sensitivity in male and female mosquitoes. Proc Biol Sci. 2000 Mar 7;267(1442):453–457. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Göpfert MC, Briegel H, Robert D. Mosquito hearing: sound-induced antennal vibrations in male and female Aedes aegypti. J Exp Biol. 1999 Oct;202(Pt 20):2727–2738. [PubMed]
  • Hudspeth A. Mechanical amplification of stimuli by hair cells. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1997 Aug;7(4):480–486. [PubMed]
  • Jaramillo F, Markin VS, Hudspeth AJ. Auditory illusions and the single hair cell. Nature. 1993 Aug 5;364(6437):527–529. [PubMed]
  • Johnstone BM, Patuzzi R, Yates GK. Basilar membrane measurements and the travelling wave. Hear Res. 1986;22:147–153. [PubMed]
  • Kemp DT. Stimulated acoustic emissions from within the human auditory system. J Acoust Soc Am. 1978 Nov;64(5):1386–1391. [PubMed]
  • Köppl C, Manley GA. Spontaneous otoacoustic emissions in the bobtail lizard. I: General characteristics. Hear Res. 1993 Dec;71(1-2):157–169. [PubMed]
  • Kössl M, Boyan GS. Otoacoustic emissions from a nonvertebrate ear. Naturwissenschaften. 1998 Mar;85(3):124–127. [PubMed]
  • Manley GA, Köppl C. Phylogenetic development of the cochlea and its innervation. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1998 Aug;8(4):468–474. [PubMed]
  • Manley GA, Yates GK, Köppl C. Auditory peripheral tuning: evidence for a simple resonance phenomenon in the lizard Tiliqua. Hear Res. 1988 May;33(2):181–189. [PubMed]
  • Moran DT, Varela FJ, Rowley JC., 3rd Evidence for active role of cilia in sensory transduction. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1977 Feb;74(2):793–797. [PubMed]
  • Nobili R, Mammano F, Ashmore J. How well do we understand the cochlea? Trends Neurosci. 1998 Apr;21(4):159–167. [PubMed]
  • Probst R. Otoacoustic emissions: an overview. Adv Otorhinolaryngol. 1990;44:1–91. [PubMed]
  • Rebillard G, Lavigne-Rebillard M. Effect of reversible hypoxia on the compared time courses of endocochlear potential and 2f1-f2 distortion products. Hear Res. 1992 Oct;62(2):142–148. [PubMed]
  • Rhode WS. Observations of the vibration of the basilar membrane in squirrel monkeys using the Mössbauer technique. J Acoust Soc Am. 1971 Apr;49(4 Suppl):1218+–1218+. [PubMed]
  • Risler H, Schmidt K. Der Feinbau der Scolopidien im Johnstonschen Organ von Aëdes aegypti L. Z Naturforsch B. 1967 Jul;22(7):759–762. [PubMed]
  • Robles L, Ruggero MA, Rich NC. Two-tone distortion in the basilar membrane of the cochlea. Nature. 1991 Jan 31;349(6308):413–414. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Ruggero MA. Responses to sound of the basilar membrane of the mammalian cochlea. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1992 Aug;2(4):449–456. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Ruggero MA, Rich NC. Furosemide alters organ of corti mechanics: evidence for feedback of outer hair cells upon the basilar membrane. J Neurosci. 1991 Apr;11(4):1057–1067. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Sawada M, Sato M. The effect of dimethyl sulfoxide on the neuronal excitability and cholinergic transmission in Aplysia ganglion cells. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1975 Jan 27;243:337–357. [PubMed]
  • Sellick PM, Patuzzi R, Johnstone BM. Measurement of basilar membrane motion in the guinea pig using the Mössbauer technique. J Acoust Soc Am. 1982 Jul;72(1):131–141. [PubMed]
  • Stewart CE, Hudspeth AJ. Effects of salicylates and aminoglycosides on spontaneous otoacoustic emissions in the Tokay gecko. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Jan 4;97(1):454–459. [PubMed]
  • Theophilidis G, Kravari K. Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) eliminates the response of the sensory neurones of an insect mechanoreceptor, the femoral chordotonal organ of Locusta migratoria, but blocks conduction of their sensory axons at much higher concentrations: a possible mechanism of analgesia. Neurosci Lett. 1994 Nov 7;181(1-2):91–94. [PubMed]
  • Walker RG, Willingham AT, Zuker CS. A Drosophila mechanosensory transduction channel. Science. 2000 Mar 24;287(5461):2229–2234. [PubMed]
  • Yager DD. Structure, development, and evolution of insect auditory systems. Microsc Res Tech. 1999 Dec 15;47(6):380–400. [PubMed]
  • Yates GK, Johnstone BM, Patuzzi RB, Robertson D. Mechanical preprocessing in the mammalian cochlea. Trends Neurosci. 1992 Feb;15(2):57–61. [PubMed]

Articles from Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences are provided here courtesy of The Royal Society