Scientists at the University of Arizona have successfully bred genetically modified mosquitoes that are 100 percent resistant to the malaria parasite, rendering the mosquito incapable of infecting humans with malaria.
Think all of your genetic material came straight down to you from further up your family tree? A team of researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington doesn't think so. In a finding that shakes up the prevailing theory that mammals pass on genetic material vertically from parent to progeny, researchers have found hard evidence of horizontal DNA transfer -- swapping genetic material between non-mating species -- between some parasites and their vertebrate hosts.
By Arnie CooperPosted 10.29.2009 at 5:01 pm 12 Comments
A whale’s skin is easily glommed up with barnacles, algae, bacteria and other sea creatures, but sharks stay squeaky-clean. Although these parasites can pile onto a shark’s rippled skin too, they can’t take hold and thus simply wash away. Now scientists have printed that pattern on an adhesive film that will repel bacteria pathogens from hospitals and public restrooms.
Parasites may reduce their hosts' risk of developing immune dysfunctions
By Amber SassePosted 04.22.2009 at 11:10 am 4 Comments
The incidence of asthma and allergies are on the rise. In the United States alone, asthma rates have doubled since the 1980s. And, according to a recent article by the BBC, doctors once estimated 15 percent of the population had some type of allergy, but now believe the figure is closer to 40. More patients are also suffering from multiple allergies than ever before. The reason for this trend has been widely disputed, but a new study points the finger at a surprising culprit: lice.
A good dose of nature can still soothe the psyche of the modern human, but sometimes nature, red in tooth and claw, can also just gross you out. Wasps turn helpless caterpillars into a 24x7 buffet for young ones, mama mantis snacks on the head of its former lover, and a frog gives new meaning to oral fixation when nurturing the kiddies.
Not content with laying its eggs inside a caterpillar's body, a parasitic wasp then turns the host into a zombie babysitter
By Stuart FoxPosted 06.20.2008 at 1:50 pm 4 Comments
Let's hope the Glyptapanteles wasp continues to find caterpillars tastier than humans — otherwise mankind might be in some trouble. As if laying 80 eggs inside of a caterpillar's body weren't bad enough, a new study published by the Public Library of Science details how the wasp larvae then take over the mind of the caterpillar, turning it into a zombie-like bodyguard.
Sea otter deaths linked to water runoff contaminated with parasite-filled cat feces
By Matt RansfordPosted 06.05.2008 at 10:40 am 3 Comments
Toxoplasma gondii is one of the fascinating little parasitic creatures capable of changing the natural behavoir of its infected host. It needs to live in a cat in order to reproduce, but the rest of its life cycle can be spent in just about any warm-blooded animal. When it makes its way into a rat or mouse, for example, it has the peculiar ability to render the rodent unafraid of cats and even drawn to their scent. This powerful evolutionary trait increases the T. gondii's chances of reproduction—a mouse hanging around with cats is obviously likely to be eaten.
A worm that invades its host's belly to make it look more edible proves an unusual parasite
By Matt RansfordPosted 04.24.2008 at 12:34 pm 8 Comments
Cephalotes Atratus Ant
As the worms lay their eggs inside the ant, it's gaster is stretched until it resembles a berry that's attractive to birds.
Stephen P. Yanoviak
Parasites are well known to have evolved an exceptional array of strategies for perpetuating themselves. A microscopic tropical nematode worm which lives in the gasters of ants in Panama is one of the more impressive. Researchers at the University of Arkansas have recently illuminated its method, which manages to make the ant appear to be a fruit so that it will be eaten by birds.