Saturday March 23, 2019

Decoded: Why Mosquitoes Bite You

For the study, published in the journal Current Biology, the team placed mosquitoes in an insect flight simulator and exposing the mosquitoes to various smells, including human body odors, and observed how the insects, trained or not, reacted

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The study dopamine -- a brain chemical involved in reward learning -- is a key mediator of aversive learning in mosquitoes. Pixabay
The study dopamine -- a brain chemical involved in reward learning -- is a key mediator of aversive learning in mosquitoes. Pixabay
  • People who swat at mosquitoes or perform other defensive behavior may be abandoned, no matter how sweet
  • The team placed mosquitoes in an insect flight simulator and exposing the mosquitoes to various smells for the study
  • The study was published in the journal Current Biology

Wonder why you receive more bug bites than others around you? It is because, mosquitoes can rapidly learn and remember the smells, researchers have found.

The study dopamine — a brain chemical involved in reward learning — is a key mediator of aversive learning in mosquitoes.

However, people who swat at mosquitoes or perform other defensive behavior may be abandoned, no matter how sweet.

Dopamine modulates the neural activity in the brain region where the information on smell in such a way that odors were easier to discriminate, and potentially learn, by the mosquitoes, the researchers said. Pixabay
Dopamine modulates the neural activity in the brain region where the information on smell in such a way that odors were easier to discriminate, and potentially learn, by the mosquitoes, the researchers said. Pixabay

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Mosquitoes exhibit a trait known as aversive learning by training female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to associate odors (including human body odors) with unpleasant shocks and vibrations, said Clement Vinauger, Assistant Professor in Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University or Virginia Tech.

For the study, published in the journal Current Biology, the team placed mosquitoes in an insect flight simulator and exposing the mosquitoes to various smells, including human body odors, and observed how the insects, trained or not, reacted.

“Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing exactly what attracts a mosquito to a particular human — individuals are made up of unique molecular cocktails that include combinations of more than 400 chemicals,” said Chloe Lahondere, Assistant Professor at the varsity.

“However, we now know that mosquitoes are able to learn odors emitted by their host and avoid those that were more defensive,” Lahondere added.

ALSO READ: Dengue stings Delhi as govt sleeps under an opaque mosquito net

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are vectors for Zika fever, dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever viruses, and can be found in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. Pixabay
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are vectors for Zika fever, dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever viruses, and can be found in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. Pixabay

 

“Understanding these mechanisms of mosquito learning and preferences may provide new tools for mosquito control,” Vinauger said.

“For example, we could target mosquitoes’ ability to learn and either impair it or exploit it to our advantage,” he noted. (IANS)

Next Story

Study Reveals Shape and Structure of The Milky Way Galaxy

So our Milky Way's twists are rare but not unique, they said

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Saraswati
Earth is part of the Milky way galaxy. Wikimedia

The Milky Way’s disk of stars is not stable or flat but instead becomes increasingly “warped” and twisted far away from the galaxy’s centre, according to astronomers.

“We usually think of spiral galaxies as being quite flat, like Andromeda which you can easily see through a telescope,” said Professor Richard de Grijs from Macquarie University in Australia.

To understand, the team used 1,339 “standard” stars, each up to 100,000 brighter than our sun, to map the real shape of our home galaxy.

The new 3D map of our galaxy showed that the warped Milky Way disc also contains young stars and confirmed that the warped spiral pattern is caused by torque from the spinning of the Milky Way’s massive inner disc of stars, accordoing to the study published in the Nature Astronomy journal.

From a great distance, our galaxy would look like a thin disk of stars that orbit once every few hundred million years around its central region, where hundreds of billions of stars, together with a huge mass of dark matter, provide the gravitational “glue” to hold it all together.

Representational Image of Milky Way.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

But the pull of gravity becomes weaker far away from the Milky Way’s inner regions. In the galaxy’s far outer disk, the hydrogen atoms making up most of the Milky Way’s gas disk are no longer confined to a thin plane, but they give the disk an S-like warped appearance.”It is notoriously difficult to determine distances from the Sun to parts of the Milky Way’s outer gas disc without having a clear idea of what that disc actually looks like,” said Xiaodian Chen from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

“This research provides a crucial updated map for studies of our galaxy’s stellar motions and the origins of the Milky Way’s disk,” added Licai Deng, also from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Also Read- 2018 Fourth-hottest Year Since 1880; Earth Set to Get Warmer, Says NASA

Astronomers have observed a dozen other galaxies which showed similar progressively twisted spiral patterns in their outer regions.

So our Milky Way’s twists are rare but not unique, they said.  (IANS)