While most of us would be hard pressed to find anything positive about mosquito bites, researchers from Nagoya University have found that mosquitoes could actually play a positive role in future forensic investigations.
Scientists were curious about how long human blood would remain traceable in a mosquito’s stomach, so they found some (brave) volunteers who were willing to get bitten. Based on their experiments, the researchers learned that they could trace DNA found in the mosquito’s stomach up to two days after the person was bitten. With this information, forensic investigations could tie potential suspects to crime scenes.
Researchers at Nagoya University have shown that human blood extracted from a buzzing bloodsucker can be traced back to its original owner up to 48 hours after a skeeter has siphoned it off.
“This technique can help police work out who was at a crime scene,” lead scientist Toshimichi Yamamoto said in a statement.
“In the future, it might provide evidence that can be used to convict offenders.”
No one knew how long human blood drawn by a mozzie kept an identifiable DNA profile, so Yamamoto and a team of forensic scientists decided to find out.
They recovered blood from mosquitos who had bitten volunteers, and then used a technique called polymerase chain reaction — PCR for short — to examine it.
PCR is a standard tool in forensics for amplifying a tiny DNA fragment up to thousands of times.
The researchers found that they could accurately match the minuscule blood traces to the volunteers who had offered themselves up as a meal, even after two days of digestion in a mosquito’s stomach.
After three days, however, the blood completely broke down.
The experiments were performed with two species, Culex pipiens pallens and Aedes albopictus, both found throughout much of the tropical and sub-tropical world.
“We hope this will help crime scene investigators collect reliable evidence,” Yamamoto said.
With further research, he added, it might be possible to accurately estimate when a mosquito plunged his syringe into its victim.
While this may be one mark in the mosquitoes’ favor, there are still hundreds of reasons you don’t want to have mosquitoes buzzing around your property. Don’t volunteer to get bitten in your own backyard! Contact DC Mosquito Squad today to learn how we can help you and your family enjoy a pest-free summer.
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