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科学美国人60秒:有些驱蚊剂就像隐形斗篷一样

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Some Mosquito Repellents Act Like Invisibility Cloaks

有些驱蚊剂就像隐形斗篷一样

It might seem obvious that the primary function of insect repellents like DEET is to, well, repel. But if you bring a pipette tip full of DEET right up to a mosquito, as Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Chris Potter did, "she just ignores it. So that really does demonstrate that DEET by itself is not repellent, and it's not going to make them fly away."

避蚊胺等驱蚊剂主要功能很明显就是驱蚊。但如果你像约翰霍普金斯大学的神经学家克里斯·波特(Chris Potter)那样,用一根装满避蚊胺的吸管直接拿去碰蚊子,“蚊子就会忽略它。”所以这确实证明了避蚊胺本身并驱蚊的,也不会让它们飞走。”

Potter's team also genetically engineered Anopheles mosquitoes to make their antennae light up when their olfactory neurons picked up on a scent. But when they spritzed the antennae with DEET and other so-called "repellents," even at 100 percent strength, "There just was no response.""So that was a surprise to us. Going into this we thought, ok they're insect repellents, they're going to activate neurons, that's how they repel mosquitoes. So then the question is, what are they actually doing?"

波特的研究小组还对按蚊进行了基因改造,使它们在嗅到气味时,其嗅觉神经元的触须会发光。但是当他们用驱蚊胺和其他所谓的“驱蚊剂”喷洒神经元的触须时,即使是100%的强度,“蚊子也没有反应。”所以这对我们来说是一个惊喜。我们认为,驱虫剂会激活神经元,这就是它们驱蚊的方式。所以问题是,他们到底在做什么?”

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The researchers kept experimenting with those genetically modified mosquitoes to find out. A whiff of molecules commonly found on human skin made the mosquitoes' antennae light up like a Christmas tree, Potter says. So they do sense us… which you've likely experienced. But when they combined compounds from our natural human perfume with DEET and other synthetic repellents… the antennae just flickered dimly.

为了找到答案,研究人员一直在对这些转基因蚊子进行实验。一种常见于人类皮肤上的分子气味使蚊子的触角像圣诞树一样亮了起来,波特说。所以,你可能也经历过,它们确实能感觉到我们。但是,当他们将人类天然香水中的化合物与避蚊胺和其他合成驱蚊剂混合在一起时,“天线”就会模糊地闪烁。

"So these odors which before would strongly activate the olfactory system essentially now didn't do anything." Meaning repellents like DEET actually act like an invisibility cloak against mosquitoes. The details are in the journal Current Biology.

“所以这些以前会强烈激活嗅觉系统的气味现在基本上没有任何作用。”意思是驱蚊剂,比如避蚊胺,实际上就像对付蚊子的隐形斗篷。详细信息发表在《当代生物学》杂志上。

Natural repellents on the other hand, like lemongrass oil, strongly activated the skeeter's senses… in a negative way. And they weren't as affected by masking chemicals like DEET. So the scientists say maybe you could combine them—to both offend the mosquitoes' senses and to mask the more irresistible scent… of you.

另一方面,天然的驱虫剂,比如柠檬草油,强烈地激活了斯基特的感官……他们不会受到像避蚊胺这样的化学物质的影响。因此,科学家们说,也许你可以把它们结合起来——既能刺激蚊子的感官,又能掩盖你身上更诱人的气味。

Some Mosquito Repellents Act Like Invisibility Cloaks

It might seem obvious that the primary function of insect repellents like DEET is to, well, repel. But if you bring a pipette tip full of DEET right up to a mosquito, as Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Chris Potter did, "she just ignores it. So that really does demonstrate that DEET by itself is not repellent, and it's not going to make them fly away."

Potter's team also genetically engineered Anopheles mosquitoes to make their antennae light up when their olfactory neurons picked up on a scent. But when they spritzed the antennae with DEET and other so-called "repellents," even at 100 percent strength, "There just was no response.""So that was a surprise to us. Going into this we thought, ok they're insect repellents, they're going to activate neurons, that's how they repel mosquitoes. So then the question is, what are they actually doing?"

The researchers kept experimenting with those genetically modified mosquitoes to find out. A whiff of molecules commonly found on human skin made the mosquitoes' antennae light up like a Christmas tree, Potter says. So they do sense us… which you've likely experienced. But when they combined compounds from our natural human perfume with DEET and other synthetic repellents… the antennae just flickered dimly.

"So these odors which before would strongly activate the olfactory system essentially now didn't do anything." Meaning repellents like DEET actually act like an invisibility cloak against mosquitoes. The details are in the journal Current Biology. [Ali Afify et al, Commonly Used Insect Repellents Hide Human Odors from Anopheles Mosquitoes]

Natural repellents on the other hand, like lemongrass oil, strongly activated the skeeter's senses… in a negative way. And they weren't as affected by masking chemicals like DEET. So the scientists say maybe you could combine them—to both offend the mosquitoes' senses and to mask the more irresistible scent… of you.


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