A new research study has surprised everyone revealing that mosquitoes find human blood appealing because it tastes like ‘candy’ for them. Understanding what does human blood tastes like for mosquitoes is a unique and astounding experience.
The complete study findings are published in the journal “Neuron.”
Leslie B. Vosshall from Rockefeller University (NY) is the lead author of this study. According to Vosshall, the human blood’s taste for mosquitoes is determined as salty and sweet candy. Interestingly, these parasites like mosquitoes are able to identify certain food combinations inside human blood.
The study explains that the omnivorous mosquitoes (females) are able to differentiate between any nectar that they eat by using their specialized taste buds. The same applies to the blood that they taste and are able to identify it. They have certain distinguishing parts in their mouth i.e. for sugar and plasma.
To identify and understand the taste buds of these mosquitoes, the researchers used the genetically modified versions of these mosquitoes exposed to a fluorescent tag which automatically lits up if any neuron which translates to a certain flavor is triggered. After that, they fed these mosquitoes with a mixture made of human blood, glucose, ATP, salt, and sodium bicarbonate.
ATP is a different addition to this mix which tastes absolutely nothing to the human race but somehow it excited the parasites such as mosquitoes. So adding it inside this mix was the real treat.
The research team was astonished to see that nearly half of the cells were able to respond to the blood both real blood and the imitation mixture. Whereas the other half of the cells didn’t show any reaction to these things. So it led them to the conclusion that mosquitoes are able to identify the human blood and they can even differentiate between blood and nectar. This identification is a part of their primary sensory detection.
These results reveal that not only humans but mosquitoes can also differentiate between salty and sugary flavor in the blood that feels like “candy” to them.
Vosshall suspects that this experience is somewhat different for every mosquito and every species. She related this behavior to the same behavior as shown by the honey bee to see the UV light and bats’ ability to identify the ultrasonic noise.
Mosquitoes have a huge and complex palate however it doesn’t seem that they are much of a ‘picky’ eater when there is human blood in front of them. The study’s co-author, Veronica Jové from Rockefeller University says that everything that tastes nearly like blood is candy for the mosquitoes that they can’t resist. Jové conducted the unorthodox tasting test as a part of Vosshall’s study. According to her, all humans are ‘tasty’ and ‘delicious’ for mosquitoes.
This new study provides a hope that understanding the mosquitoes’ taste buds will help to formulate new medicines that could save people from mosquitos’ bites. The mosquitoes are involved in a number of diseases as they transmit pathogens.
Vosshall aims to work on a drug that can make humans somehow ‘less delicious’ to mosquitoes and they may stop biting humans. Ideally, if the mosquitoes are unable to identify the characteristic taste of human blood that they crave like candy, it is impossible for them to bite humans and transmit the pathogen, as per theory. However, it is too early to say anything conclusively at this point.