Matthew DeGennaro’s laboratory of mosquito genetics and behavior has just published its first article. DEET is the most effective insect repellent available and has been widely used for more than half a century. The review explores what is known about the olfactory and contact mechanisms of DEET repellency. For mosquitoes, DEET has at least two molecular targets: Odorant Receptors (ORs) mediate the effect of DEET at a distance, while a non-OR chemosensor mediates contact repellency. The ionotropic receptor, Ir40a, has been recently identified as an additional DEET chemosensor in Drosophila. The manner in which DEET induces insect avoidance in the vapor phase is contested. Two hypotheses are the most likely: DEET activates an innate olfactory neural circuit leading to avoidance of hosts (smell and avoid) or DEET has no behavioral effect on its own, instead acting cooperatively with host odors to drive repellency (confusant). Resolving this mystery will inform the search for a new generation of insect repellents. The review was highlighted by having a mosquito appear on the journal’s cover. Dr. DeGennaro’s lab is currently exploring new approaches to uncover the mysterious mechanism of DEET repellency in the vapor phase.
To view the article, click here.
Congratulations to Dr. DeGennaro and his team!