Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Progress in probing the mosquito’s sense of smell

16.01.2004


Researchers find odorant in human sweat that attracts female mosquitoes


Male and female Anopheles mosquitoes
By Neil Brake, Vanderbilt University



Today, we know a little bit more about one of mankind’s deadliest enemies, the mosquito. Scientists have taken an important step toward understanding the mosquito’s sense of smell, an avenue of research that may lead to better ways to repel the deadly insect.

In a joint effort reported in the Jan. 15 issue of the journal Nature, researchers at Vanderbilt and Yale universities have verified that the antennae of female Anopheles mosquitoes that prey on humans contain receptors that respond to one of the chemical compounds found in human sweat.


"This validates our hypothesis that the olfactory system of mosquitoes--and other insects--consists of an array of different receptors, each of which responds to a very narrow range of odorants," says Laurence J. Zwiebel, associate professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt, who participated in the study. His co-authors were Vanderbilt graduate student A. Nicole Fox along with Yale colleagues Elissa A. Halem, a graduate student, and professor John R. Carlson.

Confirmation of this hypothesis means that it should be possible to identify the specific human odorants and the protein receptors that allow female mosquitoes to identify their hosts when they need blood to satisfy their reproductive needs. In addition to cataloging the human odorants that attract mosquitoes, it also will allow the researchers to go further and search for additional chemicals that either attract or repel these highly selective insects.

"Looking at attractants is only half of the picture. There is no evidence that mosquitoes find some human odorants repellent, but we’re interested in exploring this," says Zwiebel. Such discoveries might lead to new and more effective repellants that could play a major role in reducing the death toll from diseases spread by mosquitoes, including malaria, encephalitis, West Nile, dengue, hemorrhagic and yellow fevers.

Previous studies have shown that human sweat contains about 350 different aromatic compounds, but not much research has been done on them. For example, researchers do not know much about the individual variations in these odorants, not even how greatly the odorants of men and women differ.

However, recent data from researchers in the Netherlands suggests that mosquitoes use a blend of many odorants in targeting prey. "This is a very complex system," Zwiebel observes.

The Nature paper reports another important advance. The researchers were able to get a mosquito olfactory gene to work in Drosophila, the fruit fly that has become the "white lab rat" of genetic research. This provides the researchers with a wealth of tools they can use to explore the nature of the mosquito’s olfactory system at the genetic and molecular level.

The researchers created fruit flies with Anopheles’ olfactory genes and then tested their sensitivity to different compounds found in human sweat. They identified one particular compound, 4-methylphenol, strongly activated an odorant receptor that is expressed in female mosquitoes but not in males. Previous studies had shown that the production of this protein is suppressed in female mosquitoes immediately following a blood meal when they are no longer responsive to human odors. The new finding strengthens the argument that female Anopheles use 4-methylphenol to seek out hosts.

The fact that the mosquito gene works properly in the fruit fly has another significant ramification. It means that the fundamental nature of the olfactory system in other insects must be extremely similar to that of the mosquito. "As a result, our research should have a direct bearing not only on the mosquito, but also on other insects that carry disease and act as agricultural pests," Zwiebel says.

David F. Salisbury | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.exploration.vanderbilt.edu
http://www.vanderbilt.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>