Having reviewed a comparative study on mosquitoes, NSF-funded researchers are exploring why blood-sucking flies discriminate when it comes to selecting their hosts. They've learned it's likely an attraction that might not even go skin-deep, but a community of bacteria that has taken up residence on the skin. Learn more with NSF's The Discovery Files.
Credit: National Science Foundation
Hi! I'm Mo Barrow with The Discovery Files, from NSF -- the U.S. National Science Foundation.
Does that sound make you nervous, ready to swat?
Those pesky mosquitoes! Why do they find some of us more appetizing than others?
NSF-funded researchers, led by the University of California, San Diego and Western Kentucky University, are exploring why some blood-sucking bugs discriminate when it comes to selecting their hosts.
They've learned it's likely an attraction that might not even go skin-deep.
In this study, the scientists studied blood-sucking flies that specialize in feasting on bats. They found the flies might be targeting their hosts by following the scent of chemicals produced by bacteria on their skin.
Taking a cue from mosquitoes, the flies are attracted to distinctive microbiomes, the unique community of bacteria, living on a person's skin.
Studying the flies' and mosquitoes' preferred targets, helps us better understand the pathways of disease transmission among humans by, you got it, mosquitoes!
Discover how the U.S. National Science Foundation is advancing research at nsf.gov.
"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast.
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