Researchers have been trying to understand why and how mosquitoes get attracted to humans as their prey by studying their odor sensor system. However, biologists at Vanderbilt University have discovered that female mosquitoes of Anopheles gambiae species have a second system of odor sensors that are tuned to detect human scents. When the researchers tested the known odor receptors’ reaction to various chemical compounds, they found that none responded to human scent. Instead, the mosquitoes have an extra set of odor sensors that are specially tuned to detect two human-derived chemical signals – carboxylic acids that impart a vinegary tang and ammonia derivatives called amines. This discovery might help in designing repellents and lures that would prevent mosquitoes from targeting humans. However, the researchers state that they will have to conduct further studies to determine exactly why mosquitoes develop a preference for human blood.
Read more in Science Daily.