Microbes on human skin found to attract mosquitoes

According to research led by Niels Verhulst of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the microbes on human skin determines how attracted mosquitoes are, which may have important implications for malaria transmission and prevention.
The researchers conducted their experiments with the Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto mosquito, which plays an important part in the transmission of malaria. They found that individuals with a lower diversity but a higher abundance of bacteria on their skin were more attractive to this species of mosquito.
Verhulst and his colleagues speculate that individuals with more diverse skin microbiota may have a selective group of bacteria that emits compounds to interfere with the standard attraction of mosquitoes to their human hosts. This selective bacteria makes the individuals less attractive to mosquitoes and reduces the risk of contracting malaria.
The finding may lead to the development of more personalized methods for the prevention of malaria.
"Compounds that inhibit microbial production of human odor, or manipulation of the composition of the skin microbiota may reduce a person's attractiveness to mosquitoes," the researchers wrote, according to PLoS ONE. "Analysis of the bacterial volatiles attractive to mosquitoes produced by the Leptotrichia spp., Delftia spp. and Actinobacteria Gp3 spp. bacteria identified in this study will also contribute to the development of attractants to be used in traps for monitoring malaria mosquito populations or lure-and-kill strategies."