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Bloodthirsty! What attracts mosquitoes?

Ever noticed how some people get chewed to shreds by mosquitoes, whilst others aren't even touched by the blood-sucking pests?

New research looks like it might have a reason for that. Unfortunately, so far there's still no news on how to control it. Seems that the bacteria which live on our skin can be offputting to mosquitoes as long as those bacterial communities are sufficiently diverse to muddle up the smell coming off our stinky pits 'n' bits. So encourage diversity in your bacterial communities and not only will you be rewarded with fewer bites, but with happier, more culturally-rich and socailly sophisticated microbes too. Win!


Microbial communities on skin affect humans' attractiveness to mosquitoes

The microbes on your skin determine how attractive you are to mosquitoes, which may have important implications for malaria transmission and prevention, according to a study published Dec. 28 in the online journal PLoS ONE.

Without bacteria, human sweat is odorless to the human nose, so the microbial communities on the skin play a key role in producing each individual's specific body odor. The researchers, led by Niels Verhulst of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, conducted their experiments with the Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto mosquito, which plays an important role in malaria transmission.

They found that individuals with a higher abundance but lower diversity of bacteria on their skin were more attractive to this particular mosquito. They speculate individuals with more diverse skin microbiota may host a selective group of bacteria that emits compounds to interfere with the normal attraction of mosquitoes to their human hosts, making these individuals less attractive, and therefore lower risk to contracting malaria. This finding may lead to the development of personalized methods for malaria prevention.

Source: Public Library of Science

Trebuchet Magazine wishes you a happy and healthy New Year.

 

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