TIL The Rockefeller University lab developed an experimental mutant variety of mosquito called orco that causes the mosquitoes to no longer be repelled by the smell of DEET.

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I’d like to clear some of the air here. Orco is an olfactory co-receptor. When mutated, the mosquito is effectively smell-blind. This is why it will still land on someone even if they’re covered in DEET. However, the mosquito still tastes the DEET and flies away. The purpose of this research is to find out how DEET is actually repelling mosquitoes, because that information isn’t fully understood. They aren’t just doing this for fun; there are important scientific goals they are achieving. For those mentioning gain-of-function research, while this is GoF in the context of DEET, overall this is a loss-of-function mutation. Lastly, if you look at the actual paper this mutant was published in, you’ll find that these mosquitoes lose the strong preference for humans. Even in the unlikely event of their escape, they would only make wild mosquitoes less targeting of humans, and are still repelled by DEET taste. Source doi: 10.1038/nature12206


Why, why would you do this?


“your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”


It amuses me that seemingly no one in this thread read the article. These mosquitoes weren’t made for shits and giggles, it was to eliminate their sense of smell to study how DEET repels mosquitoes through their sense of taste. The result of this experiment could be a big step forward in understanding how to make better mosquito repellants.


“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. And I’m not sure about the universe.” Einstein