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    ABSTRACT: The African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto continues to play an important role in malaria transmission, which is aggravated by its high degree of anthropophily, making it among the foremost vectors of this disease. In the current study we set out to unravel the strong association between this mosquito species and human beings, as it is determined by odorant cues derived from the human skin. Microbial communities on the skin play key roles in the production of human body odour. We demonstrate that the composition of the skin microbiota affects the degree of attractiveness of human beings to this mosquito species. Bacterial plate counts and 16S rRNA sequencing revealed that individuals that are highly attractive to An. gambiae s.s. have a significantly higher abundance, but lower diversity of bacteria on their skin than individuals that are poorly attractive. Bacterial genera that are correlated with the relative degree of attractiveness to mosquitoes were identified. The discovery of the connection between skin microbial populations and attractiveness to mosquitoes may lead to the development of new mosquito attractants and personalized methods for protection against vectors of malaria and other infectious diseases.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(12):e28991. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Host-seeking of the African malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto, is guided by human odours. The precise nature of the odours, and the composition of attractive blends of volatiles, remains largely unknown. Skin microbiota plays an important role in the production of human body odours. It is hypothesized that host attractiveness and selection of An. gambiae is affected by the species composition, density, and metabolic activity of the skin microbiota. A study is presented in which the production and constituency of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by human skin microbiota is examined and the behavioural responses of An. gambiae to VOCs from skin microbiota are investigated. Blood agar plates incubated with skin microbiota from human feet or with a reference strain of Staphylococcus epidermidis were tested for their attractiveness to An. gambiae in olfactometer bioassays and indoor trapping experiments. Entrained air collected from blood agar plates incubated with natural skin microbiota or with S. epidermidis were analysed using GC-MS. A synthetic blend of the compounds identified was tested for its attractiveness to An. gambiae. Behavioural data were analysed by a chi(2)-test and GLM. GC-MS results were analysed by fitting an exponential regression line to test the effect of the concentration of bacteria. More An. gambiae were caught with blood agar plates incubated with skin bacteria than with sterile blood agar plates, with a significant effect of incubation time and dilution of the skin microbiota. When bacteria from the feet of four other volunteers were tested, similar effects were found. Fourteen putative attractants were found in the headspace of the skin bacteria. A synthetic blend of 10 of these was attractive to An. gambiae. The discovery that volatiles produced by human skin microorganisms in vitro mediate An. gambiae host-seeking behaviour creates new opportunities for the development of odour-baited trapping systems. Additionally, identification of bacterial volatiles provides a new method to develop synthetic blends, attractive to An. gambiae and possibly other anthropophilic disease vectors.
    Malaria Journal 12/2009; 8:302. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Odors emitted by human skin are of great interest to biologists in many fields; applications range from forensic studies to diagnostic tools, the design of perfumes and deodorants, and the ecology of blood-sucking insect vectors of human disease. Numerous studies have investigated the chemical composition of skin odors, and various sampling methods have been used for this purpose. The literature shows that the chemical profile of skin volatiles varies greatly among studies, and the use of different sampling procedures is probably responsible for some of these variations. To our knowledge, this is the first review focused on human skin volatile compounds. We detail the different sampling techniques, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, which have been used for the collection of skin odors from different parts of the human body. We present the main skin volatile compounds found in these studies, with particular emphasis on the most frequently studied body regions, axillae, hands, and feet. We propose future directions for promising experimental studies on odors from human skin, particularly in relation to the chemical ecology of blood-sucking insects.
    Journal of Chemical Ecology 04/2013; · 2.46 Impact Factor

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