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Brighton professor buzzing about mosquito research
6:30pm Monday 18th March 2013 in News
University researchers are hoping a study into the mosquito’s “buzzing” sound could help slow the progress of malaria.
Professor Ian Russell, an auditory neuroscientist at the University of Brighton, will be co-leading research with Dr Gabriella Gibson from the University of Greenwich.
They will looking into the mechanisms by which male and female mosquitoes use their buzzing sound to recognise and attract each other.
The aim is to understand the significance of mosquito love duets and how they might be used to control the breeding behaviour of mosquitoes and the spread of malaria.
The researchers have won a £194,000 grant from the Leverhulme Trust for the two year study.
Prof Russell said: “It has been known for some time that dulcet flight tones, the familiar whine people hear when mosquitoes fly close, are music to the male mosquito’s ear, guiding him through sound alone to rendezvous with a potential mate.
“We have shown that as soon as a male-female pair of flying mosquitoes can hear each other’s flight tones, they enter into a harmonising duet, each adjusting the frequency of their own wing-beats to match, or nearly match, a harmonic of their flight tone with a harmonic of the other.
“That mosquitoes harmonise is remarkable and provides them with a means of sex recognition and possibly species recognition.
“Malaria is one of the world’s biggest killers and by learning more about mating sounds and habits of mosquitoes we can learn ways of controlling their breeding habits and, in the long term, reduce the spread of malaria.”
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