Skin

30 December 2011

Skin microbes lure mosquitoes

The microbes on your skin determine how attractive you are to mosquitoes, which may have important implications for malaria transmission and prevention.

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The microbes on your skin determine how attractive you are to mosquitoes, which may have important implications for malaria transmission and prevention, according to a study published in the online journal PLoS ONE.

Without bacteria, human sweat is odourless to the human nose, so the microbial communities on the skin play a key role in producing each individual's specific body odour. The researchers, led by Niels Verhulst of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, conducted their experiments with the Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto mosquito, which plays an important role in malaria transmission.

They found that individuals with a higher abundance but lower diversity of bacteria on their skin were more attractive to this particular mosquito. They speculate individuals with more diverse skin microbiota may host a selective group of bacteria that emits compounds to interfere with the normal attraction of mosquitoes to their human hosts, making these individuals less attractive, and therefore lower risk to contracting malaria. This finding may lead to the development of personalised methods for malaria prevention.

(Eurek Alert, December 2011) 

 

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Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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