Human Scent Mimic Mosquito Trap

Developing a Chemical Lure Mimicking Human Scent to Trap Ae. aegypti

Organization: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Problem: Coupled with its genetic competence for pathogen transmission, the strong penchant of Ae. aegypti for human scent makes this mosquito species a prolific vector of Zika and an array of other vector-borne diseases. The highly domesticated mosquito also can be difficult to control in urban environments. Attractive lures that can be combined with traps for effective and efficient vector control and surveillance have proven elusive.

Solution: This team aims to identify the specific components of human scent that are actively perceived by olfactory centers in the Ae. aegypti brain and drive mosquito attraction towards humans. With this knowledge, they will develop a powerful chemical lure that mimics the signature profile of human scent for the targeted trapping of Ae. aegypti. The development of a highly attractive lure for this mosquito species will have profound implications for trapping strategies for both vector control and disease surveillance purposes to combat Zika and future arthropod-borne disease threats.


Group photo of Cono McMeniman, Shruti Shankar, Genevieve Tauxe, and Netsai Kizito

Dr. Conor McMeniman – Assistant Professor, Principal Investigator

Dr. Shruti Shankar – Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Genevieve Tauxe – Postdoctoral Fellow

Ms. Netsai Kizito – Research Technologist

Primary motivation:

"Mosquitoes have been a nuisance and deadly carrier of disease to humans for millennia – we want to do something about it. As neurobiologists, we were inspired by this USAID Grand Challenge to use the latest technological advances in neuroscience, genetics and chemistry to determine what part of the chemistry of human scent attracts the Zika mosquito Aedes aegypti towards humans. By determining how the mosquito brain perceives chemicals in our body odor and breath, we believe we can develop a designer chemical fragrance mimicking human scent that can be used to effectively bait mosquito traps to improve vector control and surveillance to combat Zika and other future threats. With any luck, we will turn this mosquito species’ lust for human scent against them to our gain!"

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