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
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.
The New York Times