Health And Medicine

Research Answers To How Mosquitoes Find Human Host

Mosquitoes despite being tiny can wreak havoc in human life with just one bite. Epidemics of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes were not uncommon throughout history.

Research Answers To How Mosquitoes Find Human Host

Mosquitoes despite being tiny can wreak havoc in human life with just one bite. Epidemics of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes were not uncommon throughout history. Even now, in places where environment favors the reproduction and growth of mosquitoes, break outs of malaria, dengue fever, sindbis fever, West Nile fever and other such diseases occur.

Scientists have long tried to come up with something that repels mosquito but for that a complete understanding of how sensory receptors have evolved to help mosquito locate the victim is essential. Scientists have known that CO2 derives mosquitoes to humans but other factors have been unknown.

Researchers from Leslie Vosshall’s lab of Neurogenetics and behavior, the Rockefeller University have carried some experiments to show some factors that mosquito depends on for biting. They used genome editing to introduce a mutant version of the mosquito that spreads the yellow fever, Aedes aegypti. The mutant was missing a gene Gr3 that codes for CO2 receptor, without which the mosquito cannot detect the gas.

The behavior of both normal and mutant mosquitoes was observed inside a chamber that held a plate heated to the temperature of human skin. Normal mosquitoes were not attracted to warmth unless CO2 was also emanating from the plate whereas mutants were not attracted to the plate at all. When their ability to detect the human host was tested in the real world, in humid greenhouse type enclosure in Australia, it was found that mutants were only 15% impaired in their ability of detection of host because they were clued in by other factors, the combination of heat and odor of the human subjects. When same experiment was carried out with mice as subjects, the mosquitoes were less likely to bite, proving that without CO2 as clue, the effects of odor and heat were diminished.

These findings can help scientists manipulate the sensory receptors of mosquitoes thus preventing the infections in humans. However, as for female mosquitoes blood feeding is necessary for development of the eggs, they have evolved several mechanisms to increase their chances of getting a fruitful bite, so for scientists there is still a lot to understand before inventing something that can keep mosquitoes away from humans .

Though many such researches are going on and scientists are hopeful they will discover something soon to bring an end to misery mosquitoes have put humans through for thousands of years.

[Source: TheΒ Rockefeller UniversityΒ | Image Credit: National Geographic]

22 comments

  1. Am I the only person in the world who thinks that messing with the gnome of the mosquito may not necessarily be an idea that has only upsides? I can see massive downside risks in a bio-engineered insect that also has the capacity to breed. The life-cycle is so short that the unexpected is almost bound to happen. We may be biting off more than we can chew here. Ah well, we’re just about due for another plague.

    1. Scientists only messed with mosquitoes genomes for experiment to study its effects, they aren’t planning to do that to every single mosquito in the world and even for the manipulation of its sensory receptors to control infection, they will have to find out another way because they cannot change the genome of every mosquito and have some faith in scientists, they wont do something that endangers us or any component of our environment. πŸ˜‰

  2. My husband got Ross River fever in Australia from a mozzie bite and was dreadfully sick with the polyarthritis & depression it engenders. He still gets flare-ups from time to time and I know he’s sick because he looks absolutely grey. The funny thing is that most times mozzies scoot over him and have a good nosh on my, god knows why!

    1. Oh, I am sorry, it must be terrible to be suffering for so long. As the virus that makes the person sick with River Ross fever cannot be ‘Taken out’ of the body, the condition is prolonged and as far as I know there are no vaccines available for it, either. Hope your husband recovers soon and his life gets back to normal. Thank you for sharing with us.

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