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article imageWhy do some people attract mosquitoes more than others?

By Tim Sandle     Apr 24, 2015 in Health
Been sitting outside with a group and wondered why some people are bitten more often than others by mosquitoes? The answer lies in the genes, resulting in some people being ‘super magnets’ for the buzzing nuisances.
This finding as come about through studies on twins based on research conducted at the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which is based in London. The study, according to The L.A. Times, found that there is an underlying genetic component that makes certain people attractive people to mosquitoes and that this is manifest in body odour. In essence, some people smell attractive to mosquitoes whereas others do not.
The experimental work, DNA reports, consisted of several studies using 18 identical and 19 non-identical female twins. The results indicated that identical twin pairs were more similar in attractiveness to mosquitoes than non-identical twin pairs. This was shown by having the participants sit in a laboratory. Close to each person’s hand was a Y-shaped tube. Mosquitoes of the species Aedes aegypti were released. Each mosquito could decide which direction it took down the tube. The mosquito, the researchers indicate, made this decision based on the odor it detected from the participant.
The results showed identical twins were likely to have about the same level of attractiveness to mosquitoes, while non-identical twins' results differed more. This suggested a genetic factor. Twin studies are frequently used to explore such patterns. Twin studies rely on comparing the phenotypes (observable physical traits) of monozygotic (genetically identical) twins and dizygotic (non-identical) twin pairs.
The results, at this stage, are indicative and further research will be required to support the findings. The sample size was also very small (just 74 participants.) If the results are confirmed, then it is possible that a new generation of repellents could be produced, suitable for different individuals.
It should be noted, however, that there could be other factors that lead to some people being more attractive for mosquitoes. These could include the soap people used, whether they wear perfume, and to diet.
The findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE. The study is called “Heritability of Attractiveness to Mosquitoes.”
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