Mosquitoes enticed by body odor genes
So why are mosquitoes attracted to some people and not others? It has to do with their odor genes, concludes a new study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Researchers looked at 18 identical and 19 non-identical twins to compare their attractiveness to mosquitoes. The sets of twins participated in a series of experiments where each would place a hand at the end of a Y-shaped wind tunnel as air flowed through to carry the odor with it. Groups of mosquitoes were then released into the tunnel and moved either towards or away from each twin’s hand.
The scientists found that identical twins had an equal distribution of mosquitoes on each twin’s hand, suggesting shared genetic factors were a factor. But the distribution of mosquitoes was more varied for the non-identical twins, suggesting their gene differences influenced how attractive they were to the insects.
This is the first study to demonstrate a genetic relationship between human scent and relative attractiveness to mosquitoes. If further research determines which specific genes may be involved, scientists may be able to develop more personalized mosquito protection.