Female mosquitoes could still detect humans even when their human-scent sensors were disabled. The discovery shows that the insects’ olfactory systems are more complex than previously thought. Now, scientists reveal how mosquitoes are able to smell humans even without antennae.
Mosquitoes hunt for their next meal by detecting human body odor, body heat, and carbon dioxide emissions, which fluctuate from individual to individual.. The research, which was published in the academic journal Cell (read below), suggests that, contrary to animals, which have a single set of neurons that sense each type of odor, mosquitoes may experience scents via a variety of unique pathways.
In order to locate the blood that will nourish their eggs, female mosquitoes use the multitude of odors that humans and other animals generate. The insects’ antennae, which are where they pick up scents, include olfactory neurons that detect and transmit scent information to the brain.
Meg Younger, the study’s primary author, and her colleagues at Boston University in Massachusetts used the gene-editing technique CRISPR to disable clusters of human-odor receptors on the olfactory neurons in the antennae of female mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti).
Younger claims that the researchers assumed mosquitoes would follow the fundamental rule of olfaction, which specifies that each neuron expresses just one kind of receptor.
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This implies that even after missing one or more receptors, mosquitoes can still identify human scents. According to the experts, this backup system might have evolved as a survival strategy.
The researchers concluded that by understanding how the mosquito brain interprets human odor, it may be possible to modify biting behavior and halt the spread of diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever that are spread by those insects.
Interestingly, fruit flies, or Drosophila melanogaster, exhibit a comparable phenomena, according to recent research by Christopher Potter at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Maryland.
Read the study below: