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Human Blood to Mosquitoes Tasted Like Candy

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If you have had the big question why mosquitoes like human blood, then the results of this research study may answer your curiosity. Yes, finally researchers know the reason why mosquitoes like human blood.

According to a New York Post report, US researchers have finally learned why mosquitoes target human blood. One reason is that human blood to mosquitoes tastes like candy.

"We thought the taste of human blood to mosquitoes was something really unique," says Leslie B. Vosshall, Ph.D, of Rockefeller University in New York. Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators spearheaded the research published in the journal Neuron.

This blood study tries to explain why human blood tastes 'salty and sweet' like salty caramel in epicurean parasites, which are able to detect the combination of at least four different substances in the blood. This technique is like a human tongue that can distinguish between salty, sweet, bitter, sour and savory tastes.

Omnivorous female mosquitoes use their special sense of taste to distinguish between the nectar they consume for energy and the blood they drink before laying eggs. The mosquito even has a separate mouth for its every need. Yes, there is a sweet tooth to consuming sweet and there is a syringe that penetrates the skin and extracts plasma, according to the new study.

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To test the blood-sucking taste buds, the researchers equipped the genetically engineered mosquitoes with fluorescent markers that light up when neurons corresponding to a particular taste are activated. The researchers then gave the mosquitoes bona fide blood and a mixture of glucose, salt, sodium bicarbonate (found in blood and baking soda) and ATP, or an energy-boosting compound.

"ATP is a special mysterious object that feels meaningless to humans, but is very attractive and beneficial to mosquitoes," said Vosshall, who has tried it himself what ATP tastes like.

As a result, the scientists found that about half the cells responded to either real or artificial blood. Meanwhile, the other half didn't react to anything.

The researchers concluded that the mosquitoes were so adept at identifying blood that they were able to differentiate from nectar at the first sensory detection level.

On the other hand, although humans and mosquitoes can taste salty and sweet in their blood, Vosshall speculates that the whole experience must be different for mosquitoes. He analogized the ability to search for insect blood to the ability of honeybees to see ultraviolet and bats to hear ultrasound.

Even so, mosquitoes are apparently not picky about their prey, says Rockefeller's Veronica Jove, who is leading an unusual taste test at Vosshall's lab. "All humans are targets of mosquitoes," he said.

Scientists hope that understanding mosquitoes' taste buds will help researchers develop drugs that are effective at stopping mosquitoes from biting humans and transmitting disease. Vosshall has even proposed using a drug that would make humans taste bad to mosquitoes.

"If the mosquitoes can't detect the taste of blood, in theory they can't transmit the disease," explains Jove.

Muhammad Sukardi, Journalist


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