Saturday, 25 April 2015

How body odour attracts mosquitoes to humans?

The likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes could be down to genes that control our body odour, a preliminary study in Plos One suggests.

Researchers tested pairs of identical and non-identical twins to see how attractive they were to mosquitoes.

Identical twins were more likely to have similar levels of attractiveness - suggesting shared genetic factors were at play.

The "intriguing" results must now be assessed in larger trials, experts say.

Researchers have long tried to understand what drives mosquitoes to bite certain people more than others. Recent work shows the insects may be lured to their victims by body odour.

And anecdotal reports suggest some relatives are just as likely to be bitten as each other.

Scientists from the UK and US wanted to find out whether genes were behind this phenomenon.

To test their theory they enlisted 19 non-identical and 18 identical pairs of twins in a pilot study.

Researchers say their works suggests attractiveness to mosquitoes could be caused by inherited body odour genes.

To carry out the study, the researchers infected malaria mosquitoes (Anopheles gambiae) with the most deadly form of parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.

They placed about 100 of the infected insects into a container, along with some nylon stockings that had been previously worn by volunteers for 20 hours.

"It is a very effective way of collecting body odour... the odour can remain attractive for months," explained Dr Logan.
The scientists repeated the experiment with uninfected insects.

They found that mosquitoes carrying the deadly parasite were three times more likely to be attracted to the smelly stockings.

The scientists believe this is because the tiny parasitic organisms are manipulating their hosts' sense of smell.

Their next step is to uncover which specific genes may be involved.

Further research is now under way.

A penny for your thoughts....

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