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Mutant mosquitoes lose their appetite for humans

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What draws a mosquito to bite its host has long been studied from the perspective of the victim—uncovering which smells and chemicals lure the insect in. But researchers at Rockefeller's Laboratory of Neurogenetics and Behavior, headed by Robin Chemers Neustein Professor Leslie Vosshall, are aiming instead to get inside the perpetrator's mind. Or rather, its genome.

Recent research led by a postdoc in the lab, Matthew DeGennaro, uses a genetically modified mosquito to show that a specific gene called orco gives the insects a strong preference for humans over other mammals, and that the insect repellant DEET uses this pathway to deter mosquitoes from biting.

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