The malaria parasite relies on mosquitoes to travel from host to host. So how to summon a ride? It turns out the parasite actually contains chloroplast-like organelles, which don't respond to light, but do manufacture some of the aromatic lemon-and-pine-scented compounds found in plants. Those compounds lure mosquitoes in, potentially aiding the parasite's spread to new hosts. A study on the subject appears in the journal mBio. Study author Audrey Odom of Washington University says that if the parasite's scent shows up in the breath of patients, a quick breathalyzer test could someday replace the blood tests currently used to detect malaria.
Produced by Christopher Intagliata, Senior Producer