Genes are linked to mosquito attacks
Published 23/04/2015 | 08:13
Some unfortunate souls are born to be mosquito magnets, new research suggests.
Scientists have found evidence that people's genes determine how attractive their body smell is to the biting insects.
The findings build on previous work linking body odour to the chances of being attacked by mosquitoes.
Some individuals who avoid being bitten were shown to produce a natural repellent.
The new study found identical twins were more similar in their attractiveness to mosquitoes than non-identical twins.
Since identical twins share all the same genes and non-identical twins do not, this was evidence that the mosquito effect was genetically driven.
"By investigating the genetic mechanism behind attractiveness to biting insects we can move closer to using this knowledge for better ways of keeping us safe from bites and the diseases insects can spread through bites," said lead scientist Dr James Logan, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
"If we understand the genetic basis for variation between individuals it could be possible to develop bespoke ways to control mosquitoes better.
"We may even be able to take a pill which will enhance the production of natural repellents by the body."
Pregnant women are more attractive to the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae than those who are not. And fatter people also seem to be more attractive to mosquitoes and midges than slim individuals.