Thursday, January 29, 2004

Another Reason Why Wearing Deodorant Is a Good Idea

It's known that mosquitos are attracted to their hosts (e.g. succulent human flesh) through olfactory cues, but the exact molecular mechanisms are unknown. In the January 15th 2004 issue of Nature, a research group from Yale showed that an odorant receptor in mosquitos responds to human sweat. The receptor, called AgOr1, is found in female Anopheles mosquitos which transmit malaria to humans. The researchers expressed the receptor in fruit flies and showed that the fruit fly neurons that contain the receptor are activated by 4-methylphenol, a component of human sweat.

I'm guessing that the reasearchers used fruit flies for their experiments because the methods for electrical recording of fly neurons and the manipulation of genes in fruit flies are better established versus in mosquitos. I'm sure this research will add in the design of better insect repellents. They'll contain chemicals that specifically block various insect odorant receptors. But for now, if you live in a mosquito infested swamp, I recommend lots of DEET and Right Guard.

Juicy sweet!

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