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"Once mosquitoes learned odors in an aversive manner, those odors caused aversive responses on the same order as responses to DEET, which is one of the most effective mosquito repellents," senior author Jeff Riffel said in a statement.
The scientists also discovered that dopamine is essential to mosquito learning. During the second part of the study, they monitored the neurons in their brains. They found that without dopamine, “those neurons were less likely to fire,” leaving the mosquitoes with less ability to retain information.
“By understanding how mosquitoes are making decisions on whom to bite, and how learning influences those behaviors, we can better understand the genes and neuronal bases of the behaviors,” said Riffell. “This could lead to more effective tools for mosquito control.”
Researchers now want to further their investigations to determine how mosquitoes learn and remember sensations connected to their favored hosts.
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