Today, a team of biologists from the Laboratory of Exotic Genetics at the International University of Florida in the United States presented the results of their truly unusual research on how mosquitoes find living creatures and begin to feed on their blood. The fact is that despite the well-known established fact that mosquitoes perfectly capture lactic acid and sweat, which also attracts them to the source of food, scientists could not previously determine what exactly this is about. And now experts in bio-genetics have found the answer to this interesting question.
Studying several varieties of mosquitoes, they paid particular attention to the Aeges aegypti species, which often carries and spreads some really dangerous diseases, such as Zika virus and malaria. By studying their genome and exploring genetic modifiers and relationships, scientists discovered a hitherto unnoticed receptor gene called 8a or IR8a, which is its full name. This receptor gene is responsible for capturing lactic acid and human sweat, due to which the mosquito can quickly navigate to the source of food and start bothering its victim.
Experimenting with the expression of this gene, the experts tried to establish whether the violation of this gene would interfere with their daily diet – and it turned out that it would interfere, and strongly. Despite the fact that even with a mutation of this receptor, mosquitoes could still find people by the source of heat, the mutation significantly reduced their desire to feed on blood – experiments showed that this way it was possible to otbadit to half of the tested mosquitoes.
And this means, in turn, that specialists will soon be able to develop and test more effective options for medicines and means for combating insects and in particular mosquitoes, which, as has already been indicated, can often become the cause of the spread of many dangerous diseases. Thus, experts plan to continue to experiment with the gene receptor IR8a.