Researchers have learned
more about how mosquitoes detect skin odour, and they say their findings could
lead to better repellents and traps.
Mosquitoes are attracted to
our skin odour and to the carbon dioxide we exhale. Previous research found
that mosquitoes have special neurons that enable them to detect carbon dioxide.
Until now, however, scientists had not pinpointed the neurons that mosquitoes
use to detect skin odour.
The new study found that
the neurons used to detect carbon dioxide are also used to identify skin odour.
This means it should be easier to find ways to block mosquitoes' ability to
zero in on people, according to the study's authors. The findings appeared in the journal Cell.
"These findings open
up very realistic possibilities of developing ways to use simple, natural,
affordable and pleasant odours to prevent mosquitoes from finding humans,"
senior author Anandasankar Ray, of the University of California, Riverside,
said in a journal news release.
Mosquitoes can carry
dangerous diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and West Nile virus.
experimental approaches we have developed will help us find potential solutions
that we could use not only here in the United States but also in Africa, Asia
and South America, where affordability is key in the war against these
diseases," Ray said.
"The insect olfactory
system is an excellent target to manipulate their attraction to humans and
other prey," Ray said. "We believe that this study will be the
foundation for the discovery of a new generation of mosquito-behaviour-modifying
The US Centres for Disease
Control and Prevention has more about mosquito-borne
diseases and the mosquito menace.
(Picture: Mosquito from Shutterstock)