If mosquitoes get attracted to your brother, chances are they would choose you among the many for the next bite -- for the likelihood of being bitten by mosquitoes could be due to our genes, says a recent study carried out on twins.
Whether mosquitoes would find you attractive to bite or not depends a lot on the type of your body odor controlled by genes, the findings showed. People who are less attractive to mosquitoes produce natural repellents and, according to the study, this trait could be genetically controlled.
"If we understand the genetic basis for variation between individuals it could be possible to develop bespoke ways to control mosquitoes better, and develop new ways to repel them," said senior study author James Logan, senior lecturer at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. "In the future, we may even be able to take a pill which will enhance the production of natural repellents by the body and ultimately replace skin lotions," Logan noted.
A series of trials using 18 identical and 19 non-identical female twins showed that identical twin pairs were more similar in attractiveness to mosquitoes than non-identical twin pairs. The extent to which genes play a part, the level of heritability, in the trait for being attractive or not to mosquitoes was found to be at a similar level as that associated with height and IQ.
In the experiment, the dengue mosquitoes Aedes aegypti were released into a Y-shaped tube which divides into two sections. They were allowed to fly down either side towards the odor from the study participants' hands to see which twin they were most attracted to.
The findings appeared in the journal PLOS ONE