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Skin microbes affect humans' attractiveness to mosquitoes

December 29, 2011 - Washington

Microbes on a person's skin determine how attractive an individual is to mosquitoes, a new study has found.

Without bacteria, human sweat is odourless to the human nose, so the microbial communities on the skin play a key role in producing each individual's specific body odour.

The researchers, led by Niels Verhulst of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, conducted their experiments with the Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto mosquito, which plays an important role in Malaria transmission.

They found that individuals with a higher abundance but lower diversity of bacteria on their skin were more attractive to this particular mosquito.

They speculate that individuals with more diverse skin microbiota may host a selective group of bacteria that emits compounds to interfere with the normal attraction of mosquitoes to their human hosts, making these individuals less attractive, and therefore lower risk to contracting Malaria.

The study has been recently published in the online journal PLoS ONE.


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