Fish microbiota repel ovipositing mosquitoes

Nimrod Shteindel, Yoram Gerchman, Alon Silberbush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mere presence of predators causes prey organisms to display predation-avoidance strategies. Predator presence is often communicated through predator-released chemical signals. Ovipositing female mosquitoes of several species are repelled by unknown signals released from larvivorous fish. It was previously suggested that in many cases, a predator's microbiota plays an important role in the release of these signals; however, this mechanism is still poorly understood. In this study, we looked into the effects of the microbiota originating from the larvivorous Gambusia affinis (Baird and Girard) on the oviposition behaviour of gravid female mosquitoes. We used fish with altered microbiota and bacterial isolates in a set of outdoor mesocosm experiments to address this aim. We show that interference with the fish microbiota significantly reduces fish's repellent effect. We further show that the bacterium Pantoea pleuroti, isolated from the skin of the fish, repels oviposition of Culex laticinctus Edwards and Culiseta longiareolata Macquart mosquitoes similarly to the way in which live fish repel them. Our results highlight the importance of bacteria in the interspecies interactions of their hosts. Furthermore, this finding may lead to the development of an ecologically friendly mosquito repellent, that may reduce the use of larvivorous fish for mosquito control.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Early online date29 Feb 2024
StatePublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Journal of Animal Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society.


  • fish-released kairomones
  • habitat selection
  • microbiota
  • oviposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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