Wednesday November 20, 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

Here’s How Healthy Diet Reduces Risk Of Hearing Loss

Study has found that healthy diet can lower the risk of hearing loss

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Healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet can lower the risk of hearing loss. Pixabay

Researchers have found that eating a healthy diet may reduce the risk of acquired hearing loss.

Using longitudinal data collected in the Nurses’ Health Study II Conservation of Hearing Study (CHEARS), researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in US, examined three-year changes in hearing sensitivities and found that women whose eating patterns adhered more closely to commonly recommended healthful dietary patterns have substantially lowered risk of decline in hearing sensitivity.

“A common perception is that hearing loss is an inevitable part of the aging process. However, our research focuses on identifying potentially modifiable risk factors – that is, things that we can change in our diet and lifestyle to prevent hearing loss or delay its progression,” said lead author Sharon Curhan.

“The benefits of adherence to healthful dietary patterns have been associated with numerous positive health outcomes and eating a healthy diet may also help reduce the risk of hearing loss,” Curhan added.

Previous studies have suggested that higher intake of specific nutrients and certain food, such as the carotenoids beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin (found in squash, carrots, oranges and other fruits and vegetables) were associated with lower risk of self-reported hearing loss.

Healthy diet for hearing
Hearing Loss is believed to be the part of the aging process but a healthy diet can lower the risk of hearing loss. Pixabay

For the study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers established 19 geographically diverse testing sites across the US and trained teams of licensed audiologists to follow standardised CHEARS methods.

The audiologists measured changes in pure-tone hearing thresholds, the lowest volume that a pitch can be detected by the participant in a given ear, over the course of three years.

An audiologist presented tones of different frequencies (0.5, 1 and 2 kHz as low-frequencies; at 3 kHz and 4 kHz as mid-frequencies; and at 6 kHz and 8 kHz as higher frequencies) at variable “loudness” levels and participants were asked to indicate when they could just barely hear the tone.

Using over 20 years of dietary intake information that was collected every four years beginning in 1991, the researchers investigated how closely participants’ long-term diets resembled some well-established and currently recommended dietary patterns, such as the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, and Alternate Healthy Index-2010 (AHEI-2010).

Greater adherence to these dietary patterns has been associated with a number of important health outcomes, including lower risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke and death as well as healthy aging.

The team found that the odds of a decline in mid-frequency hearing sensitivities were almost 30 per cent lower among those whose diets most closely resembled these healthful dietary patterns, compared with women whose diets least resembled the healthy diet. In the higher frequencies, the odds were up to 25 per cent lower.

Also Read- Mutations in Genes Associated with Heart Disease: Study

“The association between diet and hearing sensitivity decline encompassed frequencies that are critical for speech understanding,” said Curhan.

“We were surprised that so many women demonstrated hearing decline over such a relatively short period of time,” Curhan added. (IANS)