Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Malaria parasite manipulates host's scent

01.07.2014

Malaria parasites alter the chemical odor signal of their hosts to attract mosquitos and better spread their offspring, according to researchers, who believe this scent change could be used as a diagnostic tool.

"Malaria-infected mice are more attractive to mosquitos than uninfected mice," said Mark Mescher, associate professor of entomology, Penn State. "They are the most attractive to these mosquito vectors when the disease is most transmissible."

Malaria in humans and animals is caused by parasites and can be spread only by an insect vector, a mosquito. The mosquito ingests the parasite with a blood meal, and the parasite creates the next generation in the mosquito's gut. These nascent parasites travel to the mosquito's salivary glands and are passed to the host during the next meal.

"We were most interested in individuals that are infected with the malaria parasite but are asymptomatic," said Consuelo De Moraes, professor of entomology, Penn State. "Asymptomatic people can still transmit the disease unless they are treated, so if we can identify them we may be able to better control the disease."

The researchers found that using a mouse malaria model, the mosquitos were more attracted to infected mice, even when the mice were otherwise asymptomatic. They report their findings today (June 30) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers, who also included Nina M. Stanczyk, former postdoctoral fellow; Heike S. Betz, research technologist, entomology; Hannier Pulido, graduate student in entomology; Derek G. Sim, technician, senior research assistant, biology; and Andrew F. Read, Alumni Professor in the Biological Sciences and Professor of Entomology, all of Penn State, also showed that several individual compounds whose concentrations were altered by malaria infection contributed to the increase in attractiveness to mosquitoes.

To eliminate other factors such as carbon dioxide production and body temperature as an attractant, the researchers extracted the body scent from the mice and showed that the changes in the scent alone altered the attraction of mosquitoes.

"Mosquitos wouldn't opt to carry the malaria parasite because it isn't good for the mosquito," said De Moraes. "Probably the parasite is not only manipulating the mice to alter their scent, but the mosquitos to be more attracted to the infected scent."

While the mosquitos were not attracted to mice that had acute malaria symptoms, they were particularly attracted to mice during a period of recovery when the transmissible stage of the malaria parasite was present at high levels.

In regions where malaria is prevalent, significant numbers of people harbor asymptomatic infections but remain able to transmit the disease to others. The researchers hope this altered scent profile might help to identify those needing treatment.

"If this holds true in humans, we may be able to screen humans for the chemical scent profile using this biomarker to identify carriers," said Mescher.

###

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Exploration supported this work.

A'ndrea Elyse Messer | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu

Further reports about: concentrations dioxide malaria mosquito parasite temperature

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Northwestern scientists develop first liquid nanolaser
27.04.2015 | Northwestern University

nachricht Why do animals fight members of other species?
24.04.2015 | University of California - Los Angeles

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fast and Accurate 3-D Imaging Technique to Track Optically-Trapped Particles

KAIST researchers published an article on the development of a novel technique to precisely track the 3-D positions of optically-trapped particles having complicated geometry in high speed in the April 2015 issue of Optica.

Daejeon, Republic of Korea, April 23, 2015--Optical tweezers have been used as an invaluable tool for exerting micro-scale force on microscopic particles and...

Im Focus: NOAA, Tulane identify second possible specimen of 'pocket shark' ever found

Pocket sharks are among the world's rarest finds

A very small and rare species of shark is swimming its way through scientific literature. But don't worry, the chances of this inches-long vertebrate biting...

Im Focus: Drexel materials scientists putting a new spin on computing memory

Ever since computers have been small enough to be fixtures on desks and laps, their central processing has functioned something like an atomic Etch A Sketch, with electromagnetic fields pushing data bits into place to encode data.

Unfortunately, the same drawbacks and perils of the mechanical sketch board have been just as pervasive in computing: making a change often requires starting...

Im Focus: Exploding stars help to understand thunderclouds on Earth

How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was discovered, more or less by coincidence, that cosmic rays provide suitable probes to measure electric fields within thunderclouds. This surprising finding is published in Physical Review Letters on April 24th. The measurements were performed with the LOFAR radio telescope located in the Netherlands.

How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was...

Im Focus: On the trail of a trace gas

Max Planck researcher Buhalqem Mamtimin determines how much nitrogen oxide is released into the atmosphere from agriculturally used oases.

In order to make statements about current and future air pollution, scientists use models which simulate the Earth’s atmosphere. A lot of information such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

HHL Energy Conference on May 11/12, 2015: Students Discuss about Decentralized Energy

23.04.2015 | Event News

“Developing our cities, preserving our planet”: Nobel Laureates gather for the first time in Asia

23.04.2015 | Event News

HHL's Entrepreneurship Conference on FinTech

13.04.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northwestern scientists develop first liquid nanolaser

27.04.2015 | Life Sciences

The Future of Oil and Gas: Pumping Innovation in the Oil and Gas Industry

27.04.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Upside down and inside out

27.04.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>