It’s one of the world’s deadliest animals, and it has a taste for human blood: the mosquito.
Mosquitoes spread diseases like malaria, dengue, and yellow fever that kill at least a half a million people each year. Now researchers are learning what humans taste like to mosquitoes, down to the individual neurons that sense blood’s distinctive, delectable flavor.
Female mosquitoes have a sense of taste that is specially tuned to detect a combination of at least four different substances in blood, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Leslie Vosshall’s team at The Rockefeller University and colleagues report October 12, 2020, in the journal Neuron. The team genetically modified mosquitoes so that researchers could see which neurons fire when a mosquito tastes blood.
“This is definitely a technical tour de force,” says neuroscientist Chris Potter of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who studies mosquito repellents. Identifying the specific taste