Mutant Mosquito Only Targets Humans

Researchers find out why some Mosquitoes Prefer to feed on People

by Lucy Benton, age 12

It is no secret that mosquitoes have always loved the taste of humans. Humans are the perfect food because they live in groups and are rarely far from water, where mosquitoes breed. A recent study is starting to unravel the mysteries of how mosquitoes detect humans.
Researchers at Rockefeller University mutated a smelling gene in Aedes aegypti, a type of mosquito that targets humans and ignores other animals. The mutated mosquitoes have an altered odor receptor called, orco.
Results of the study show that mutated Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have trouble telling the difference between humans and nonhumans. This new research also indicates these mosquitoes have trouble detecting DEET, an insect repellant. During the study, these mosquitoes landed on people covered in DEET, but didn’t realize there was something very bad on the person until it was too late.
Although the study doesn’t provide an immediate alternative to bug repellant, the knowledge could lead to new strategies to help slow the spread of illnesses, like dengue and malaria.

[Source: The New York Times ]