What if you could become invisible to mosquitoes?


If you could have just one superpower, flight or invisibility, which would you choose? And would your answer change if you could become invisible to mosquitoes?

Sure, you might never soar among eagles or brush your cheek against a wisp of cloud. But you would also no longer flee from swarming clouds of mosquitoes, and you would be protected from the deadly diseases that the insects spread.

For the first time, scientists have used the gene-editing tool Crispr-Cas9 to render humans effectively invisible in the eyes of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which use dark visual cues to hunt, according to a paper recently published in the journal Current Biology. By eliminating two of that mosquito’s light-sensing receptors, the researchers knocked out its ability to visually target hosts.

“Nobody has studied this before,” said Neha Thakre, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, San Diego, who studies Crispr as a mosquito control tool. Thakre, who was not involved with the research, said she saw the study as a “great start” to understanding what controls mosquito vision.

Aedes aegypti is a salt-and-pepper scourge on humans across the world. The females, in search of the blood they need to lay their eggs, infect tens of millions of people each year with flaviviruses that lead to dengue, yellow fever and Zika.

“The better we understand how they sense the human, the better we can control the mosquito in an eco-friendly manner,” said Yinpeng Zhan, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the lead author on the paper.

News Date: 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021