Malaria Parasite Manipulates Host’s Scent

In some parts of the world, being a mosquito magnet could mean you have malaria.

Researchers have discovered that malaria parasites alter the chemical odor signal of their hosts to attract mosquitos and better spread their offspring.

“Malaria-infected mice are more attractive to mosquitos than uninfected mice,” said Mark Mescher, associate professor of entomology.

According to Consuelo De Moraes, professor of entomology, the team was most interested in studying individuals who are infected with the malaria parasite but are asymptomatic, because these people can still transmit the disease unless they are treated.

“If we can identify them we may be able to better control the disease,” she said.
The team reported its findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in June.

—A’ndrea Elyse Messer