Mosquitos and human odours

The malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, is involved in the deaths of about one million humans every year. The female mosquitoes feed on human blood and whilst sucking their victim’s blood the mosquitoes unwittingly transmit the malaria causing parasite that threatens half of the world’s population. The number of people world wide who get malaria each year is greater than the population of the United States.
Human derived odorants have a key role in the mosquito tracing their human food sources. Female mosquitoes find the odour of patients with malaria particularly attractive.
Some of the mosquito’s odorant receptors are tuned into human derived compounds eg indole , an important component of human sweat. The receptors respond to phenol, methylphenols and other aromatic compounds and 3–methylindole , an odorant that induces females of another mosquito species to lay eggs.
Leal WS , 2010, The treacherous scent of a human. Nature vol 464 2010
Carey et al 2010 Odorant reception in the malarial mosquito Anopheles gambiae , Nature vol 464 , 66-71

Martin Eastwood
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