Mosquito smell genes may help fight malaria, according to reports in Nature, vol. 427, p212, 15 January 2004, and New Scientist, 17 January 2004, p17. Now that the mosquito genome has been published scientists are closely studying mosquito genes to understand how the insects spread malaria. According to New Scientist “John Carlson of Yale University was intrigued by the similarity between certain odour related genes in mosquitoes and those of fruit flies.” However, one gene named AgOr1 is only expressed in olfactory (smell sensing) tissue of female mosquitoes and is turned off after the mosquitoes have had a feed of blood. Carlson and his team have tested the gene and found it responds to a chemical named 4-methylphenol – a chemical that is found in human sweat. Carlson suggests the chemical could be used in the fight against malaria by luring mosquitoes into traps. Traps laced with this chemical have been shown to attract Tetse flies – another insect that bites humans and carries deadly diseases.
Editorial Comment: It has long been known that only egg laying female mosquitoes bite people. They are after iron and protein for the eggs. Otherwise, mosquitoes get their nutrients and energy from sucking plant juices. We are not surprised that mosquito smell genes should be similar to those of fruit flies, which only feed off plants. In the original good world, described in Genesis 1 and 2, all creatures ate plants. This means mosquitoes would have obtained enough iron and protein from created plants, and did not bite people. Therefore, malaria would have been impossible. The malaria parasite has to be directly injected into blood to make people sick. After Noah’s flood God gave man and animals permission to eat meat. One reason for this change of diet was that plants were rapidly degenerating and decreasing in number in the increasingly harsh environment and no longer provided enough minerals and protein. (Ref. mosquitoes, flies, malaria)