New Mosquito Nerve Cell Excitation Odorant

Bohbot Jonathan, HUJI, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, Entomology


The global mosquito repellent market size was valued at $4.1 billion in 2020 and is estimated to reach $6 billion by 2027 with a CAGR of 5.6% from 2020 to 2027[1]. Mosquitoes cause 2.7 million deaths [2] every year and are a nuisance the world over. Mosquitoes transmit unsightly, debilitating and deadly diseases. Currently there are a few types of mosquito repellents. Chemical ones such as DEET, the most common, uses an active ingredient found in most repellents with concentrations ranging from 5% to 50%. DEET can cause irritation to skin and is life threatening if children accidentally swallow it.


Plant based repellents “such as citronella, geranium, basil, garlic and peppermint offer limited protection against mosquitoes. Studies with products containing a mixture of plant oils (citronella, cajuput, lavender, safrole-free sassafras, peppermint, calendula, soy and tea tree oils) have shown them to be modestly effective, repelling mosquitoes for about two hours. Because of their limited effectiveness, they are not recommended.”[3]

Our Innovation

Dr. Bohbot, an entomologist studying mosquitoes, has identified a molecule that activates an uncharacterized mosquito’s olfactory (nose) receptor associated with CO2 and octenol sensing. This odorant molecule can either be a new repellent or attractant of mosquitoes that can be used in commercial applications. This molecule is already used in perfumery industry and is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).


The mosquito nose houses three neurons, each expressing a different odorant or gustatory receptor (OR or GR) (Figure A). Although the activating molecules for neurons A and C (Figure A) were known, the activating molecule to neuron B was unknown until Dr. Bohbot’s lab used a large collection of organic compounds to screen this olfactory organ. It was found that odorant-X selectively activates the B neuron OR49 receptor in a concentration/dose-dependent manner.


[1] https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/mosquito-repellent-market#:~:text=The%20global%20mosquito%20repellent%20market,5.6%25%20from%202020%20to%202027.

[1] https://mosquitoreviews.com/learn/disease-death-statistics

[1] https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/14,957,93.html


(Figure C, D, E, F). This volatile GRAS odorant-X activates OR49 and the noses of culicine sub-family of mosquitoes (Aedes and Culex).


Activation of neurons A and C by carbon dioxide and octenol attracts mosquitoes. The contribution of the odorant-X-sensitive cell within this trio of neurons is yet to be determined (Figure B). Understanding the behavioral role of odorant-X will determine its context of application (as a repellent or an attractant).



We are looking for a commercial entity to sponsor mosquito behavior research, to identify if this molecule repels or attracts mosquitoes, possibly modify the molecule for a stronger affect. We expect to patent the new findings and  commercialize this technology through an industry partner.






Contact for more information:

Ilya Pittel
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All projects by:Bohbot Jonathan (3)