February 21, 2019
Scientists making people ‘invisible’ to mosquitoes
RIVERSIDE – (INT) – Biologists at UC Riverside are opening the possibility of new chemical cocktails to control pests and render people “invisible” to mosquitoes.

They have found that the complex odor-detecting machinery of the fruit fly Drosophila is heavily influenced by one specific odor receptor. This same receptor also exists in crop-damaging fly species and disease-carrying mosquitoes.

“In the past we thought of odors like the keys on a piano,” explained Anandasankar Ray, associate professor of molecular, cell and systems biology. “As you press more keys at the same time, you get an additive mix of tones. But we are showing, perhaps for the first time, that a combination of odorants is not necessarily additive. It can end up producing an output that represents a subtraction.” Such basic insights, said Ray, will have application throughout the field of sensory reception, even in human studies.

In further research, Ray and his colleagues will continue to explore the odor-detection machinery in mosquitoes, seeking natural chemicals that could be used in products to render mosquitoes insensitive to humans.
Story Date: February 19, 2018
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