Male mosquitoes detect flying females using antennal hearing organs sensitive to nanoscale mechanical displacements and that harbor motile mechanosensory neurons. The mechanisms supporting neuronal motility, and their function in peripheral sensory processing, remain, however, puzzling. The mechanical and neural responses reveal a transition that unmasks the onset of synchronization between sensory neurons. This synchronization constitutes an unconventional, mechanically driven, process of communication between sensory neurons. Enhancing auditory sensitivity and selectivity, synchronization between mechanosensors in the mosquito arises from entrainment to twice-frequency forcing and is formally analogous to injection-locking in high-power laser technology. This discovery opens up the enticing possibility that other sensory systems, even nonsensory cell ensembles, coordinate their actions through mechanical signaling.
- mosquito audition
- nonlinear hearing