Do mosquitoes flock towards you whenever you dare to step outside? Well, according to a recent study you can blame a good part of this on your genes. We already knew that biology had something to do with how attractive or repellent a person is to a mosquito. We know that pregnant women are much more attractive to mosquitoes than those that are not pregnant. We know that a person’s body odor can attract or repel mosquitoes. Bacteria on your skin is partly responsible for your body’s odor, but skin cells also most likely play a role. This could mean that your genes could play a role in your body odor that attracts or repels mosquitoes.
Scientists performed a study on 18 identical twins and 19 fraternal ones, who were made to put their hands in a glass tube that would allow the test mosquitoes to smell their hands without letting them bite them. The idea behind using twins for the experiment was that if a mosquito is attracted to one of the twin’s scent, then they are likely to be attracted to the other one as well if genes do in fact play a role in whether a person attracts or repels mosquitoes. The researchers released 20 mosquitoes into these Y-shaped tubes and gave them 30 seconds to smell the scents inside, after which the researchers opened a gate and watched which hand the mosquitoes chose to go towards and which they avoided. The results proved that around 62 to 83 percent of a person’s level of attracting mosquitoes was attributed to DNA. Some unfortunate people are literally programmed by their genes to be attractive to mosquitoes.
Are you genetically programmed to attract mosquitoes? What do you think of these new findings? How could they help scientists develop ways to better protect humans from mosquitoes?