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Discovery of an oviposition attractant for gravid malaria vectors of the Anopheles gambiae species complex

Lindh, J.M.; Okal, M.N.; Herrera-Varela, M.; Borg-Karlson, A.K.; Torto, B.; Lindsay, S.W.; Fillinger, U.

Discovery of an oviposition attractant for gravid malaria vectors of the Anopheles gambiae species complex Thumbnail


J.M. Lindh

M.N. Okal

M. Herrera-Varela

A.K. Borg-Karlson

B. Torto

U. Fillinger


Background New strategies are needed to manage malaria vector populations that resist insecticides and bite outdoors. This study describes a breakthrough in developing ‘attract and kill’ strategies targeting gravid females by identifying and evaluating an oviposition attractant for Anopheles gambiae s.l.. Methods Previously, the authors found that gravid An. gambiae s.s. females were two times more likely to lay eggs in lake water infused for six days with soil from a natural oviposition site in western Kenya compared to lake water alone or to the same but autoclaved infusion. Here, the volatile chemicals released from these substrates were analysed with a gas-chromatograph coupled to a mass-spectrometer (GC-MS). Furthermore, the behavioural responses of gravid females to one of the compounds identified were evaluated in dual choice egg-count bioassays, in dual-choice semi-field experiments with odour-baited traps and in field bioassays. Results One of the soil infusion volatiles was readily identified as the sesquiterpene alcohol cedrol. Its widespread presence in natural aquatic habitats in the study area was confirmed by analysing the chemical headspace of 116 water samples collected from different aquatic sites in the field and was therefore selected for evaluation in oviposition bioassays. Twice as many gravid females were attracted to cedrol-treated water than to water alone in two choice cage bioassays (odds ratio (OR) 1.84; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16-2.91) and in experiments conducted in large-screened cages with free-flying mosquitoes (OR 1.92; 95% CI 1.63-2.27). When tested in the field, wild malaria vector females were three times more likely to be collected in the traps baited with cedrol than in the traps containing water alone (OR 3.3; 95% CI 1.4-7.9). Conclusion Cedrol is the first compound confirmed as an oviposition attractant for gravid An. gambiae s.l.. This finding paves the way for developing new ‘attract and kill strategies’ for malaria vector control.


Lindh, J., Okal, M., Herrera-Varela, M., Borg-Karlson, A., Torto, B., Lindsay, S., & Fillinger, U. (2015). Discovery of an oviposition attractant for gravid malaria vectors of the Anopheles gambiae species complex. Malaria Journal, 14(3), Article 119.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 20, 2015
Publication Date Mar 20, 2015
Deposit Date Mar 23, 2015
Publicly Available Date Mar 31, 2015
Journal Malaria Journal
Publisher BioMed Central
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 3
Article Number 119


Accepted Journal Article (16.2 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
© 2015 Lindh et al.; licensee BioMed Central. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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