The secret of the infallible mosquito smell has been revealed (Source: Pixabay) © ANSA / Ansa
If the mosquitoes You have a infallible nose for the people they owe it to them neuronsequipped with one redundant system of receptors able to perceive not only thatcarbon dioxide that we radiate with our breath, but also the others smells that emanate from our body. This is shown by the study published in the Cell journal by a research group led by the American Rockefeller University.
The results they rewrite our knowledge of the olfactory system of insects and make us understand the difficult challenge that awaits us when we think about fooling the smell of mosquitoes in order to prevent them from biting us and transmitting infectious diseases such as malaria.
“This research project really started unexpectedly when we were studying how human odors are encoded in the mosquito brain,” says Meg Younger of Boston University. Mosquitoes are attracted to both the CO2 that humans exhale and the smell of the human body. “But there is something magical about the combination of these two ingredients: One plus one is not two, but twenty,” adds the biologist.
To understand how these two signals add up and amplify in the mosquito’s olfactory system, which makes them particularly aggressive, the researchers used genetic engineering technology. Crisp to the Mark With fluorescent proteins the neurons that had receptors for CO2 and those that could detect the olfactory molecules of the human body.
So that’s what they found each olfactory neuron the gifts several classes of receptors, and not a solitary type, as has always been thought along the lines of what happens in other animals (including humans). This original Evolutionary strategy it is very useful for the mosquito’s survival: having more types of receptors in each neuron greatly increases the ability to identify the prey to bite. Fooling such a nose is therefore very complicated, “but perhaps – comments neuroscientist Christopher Potter of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine – an alternative method could be to overwhelm the entire system with alternative smells. Now we have a more realistic view what is ahead of us”.
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