New research is helping to unravel the machinery that allows a mosquito to sniff out its human quarry, which could lead to more and better ways of foiling the disease-spreading insects. A report published today in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes four genes that appear to produce odor-sensing molecules in Africas Anopheles gambiae, a carrier of malaria, the number two killer in the developing world. Understanding how such genes operate could enable scientists to develop new compounds that will repel mosquitoes or lure them to poisons. Such chemicals are needed, senior author Laurence J. Zwiebel of Vanderbilt University explains, because "current levels of malaria and other insect-borne diseases suggest that were not controlling these insects very well."
Zwiebel and colleagues scanned the mosquito genome looking for genes similar to those that generate fruit fly odorant receptors, proteins that project from nerve cells and initiate a biochemical cascade when they encounter certain molecules in the air. The four candidates the team found were all active in the antennae and mouthparts of the mosquito, where its sense of smell resides. Significantly, one of the genes the team isolated was active only in females—the mosquito gender that bites—and its activity dropped off sharply 12 hours after a blood meal. Previous studies have found that a females sense of smell is dulled after feeding on human blood. Zwiebel says he and co-workers have now isolated a total of 30 possible receptors, and he expects to find anywhere from 60 to 100 in the end.
"Understanding the switch in the mosquito nose is just step one," he notes. Individual receptors generally bind to a range of molecules with varying strengths. A longer and more difficult task, he says, will be to figure out how a mosquitos brain processes the signals that various receptors send. Controlling malaria will require an international effort, Zwiebel stresses, and "we hope that by identifying these sorts of genes… well be able to help."
JR Minkel | Scientific American
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy