Are you a mosquito magnet? Blame it on the insect’s unique sense of smell – and your unique smell

If you’ve ever sprayed yourself with insect repellent from head to toe, while feeling like a mosquito magnet, you won’t be surprised that mosquitoes are very, very good at finding humans to bite. A key contributor to this superpower is their keen sense of smell, or olfaction, which relies on the olfactory system.

“Mosquitoes are highly specialized,” says Meg Youngassistant professor of biology at Boston University College of Arts & Sciences, who studies mosquito olfaction.

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Younger is working to crack the code on how mosquitoes use their sense of smell to track us, to better understand how we can repel them more effectively. In a new paper Posted in Cell, Younger and his colleagues describe the unique and previously unknown way Aedes aegypti mosquitoes process the smell on a biological level.

According to the findings of the study, Aedes aegypti The mosquito olfactory system is organized very differently, with multiple sensory receptors housed in one neuron, a process called gene coexpression. This unique and specialized olfactory system could help explain why mosquitoes are so good at detecting humans to bite.

“It’s incredibly weird,” says Younger, who initially thought his examination of mosquito sensory neurons would prove that it resembled all other olfactory systems, like in flies and mice.

This is an excerpt. Read the original article here