Conor McMeniman, PhD, studies the molecular and cellular basis of mosquito attraction to humans.
malaria; dengue; Chikungunya; Zika; Anopheles gambiae; Aedes aegypti; genome-editing; chemosensation; olfaction; neurogenetics; neurobiology; neural circuits; vector behavior; host-pathogen interactions; microbiome
Experiences & Accomplishments
The African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae and yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti are dangerous vectors for blood-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue, Chikungunya and Zika, because of an innate preference of these mosquito species to blood-feed on humans. Mosquitoes are largely thought to target humans using their keen sense of smell. Given this relationship, identifying the chemosensory cues and neural circuits that act in concert to guide these mosquito species toward humans may help to devise powerful strategies that halt pathogen transmission.
In the McMeniman lab, we employ integrative approaches including analytical chemistry, functional imaging and genome-editing technology to elucidate how host volatiles are perceived by the mosquito nervous system, and how this olfactory percept is altered by changes in internal physiological state during pathogen infection.
By studying how the chemistry of human scent and how the mosquito nervous system detects it, our research aims to provide a global view of the odors, genes, and neural circuits that allow mosquitoes to find humans. We aim to develop innovative strategies which lure or repel mosquitoes, and potentially other anthropophilic disease vectors, away from humans to stop them transmitting vector-borne diseases.
Selected publications from the last 10 years:
Giraldo D, Rankin-Turner S, Corver A, Tauxe GM, Gao AL, Jackson DM, Simubali L, Book C, Stevenson JC, Thuma PE, McCoy RC, Gordus A, Mburu MM, Simulundu E, McMeniman CJ. (2023) Human scent guides mosquito thermotaxis and host selection under naturalistic conditions. Curr Biol 33:2367-2382.
Rankin-Turner S, McMeniman CJ. (2022) A headspace collection chamber for whole body volatilomics. Analyst 147: 5210-5222
Shankar S, McMeniman CJ. (2020). An updated antennal lobe atlas for the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 14(10):e0008729
Duvall LB, Basrur NS, Molina H, McMeniman CJ, Vosshall LB. (2017) A peptide signaling system that rapidly enforces paternity in the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Curr Biol 27: 3734-42
McMeniman CJ, Corfas RA, Matthews BJ, Ritchie SA, Vosshall LB. (2014) Multimodal integration of CO2 and other sensory cues drives mosquito attraction to humans. Cell 156: 1060-71.