Mix releases gases, chemicals that prompt insects to gorge on infectious meal
From left: James Gathany/CDC; Steven Glenn/Laboratory & Consultation Division/CDC
Malaria parasites seduce mosquitoes on the sly.
Plasmodium falciparum parasites produce a molecule that makes parasite-infected blood more attractive to malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, researchers report online February 9 in Science. The insects slurp up this enticing meal, helping the parasite spread to new hosts.
“It’s a really intriguing glimpse into how Plasmodium might have evolved to enhance its probability of transmission,” says Conor McMeniman, a mosquito researcher at Johns Hopkins University who wasn’t part of the study.
Previous research has suggested that mosquitoes might be preferentially drawn to malaria-infected people, but it was unclear what piqued their interest. Biologist Noushin Emami of Stockholm University and colleagues got an unexpected lead when studying the effect of a molecule called HMBPP on the immune system