Farming site offers worldly advice Centre Daily Times “We're soon going to have a planet with 10 billion people, and food security will be the biggest problem we'll face,” said Hughes, a tropical ecologist who is an expert on the behavior and...
Headlines & Global News Diarrhea-causing parasite infections continue to climb: 60 Iowans ill from ... Shreveport Times Authorities suspect that whatever vegetables that caused the problem probably have already been sold and consumed or thrown out.
Responsible for the most dangerous kind of malaria and at least half of malaria cases worldwide, Plasmodium falciprum is estimated to kill somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million people every year. In recent years, the parasite has developed resistance to many of our best treatments, leaving doctors without options in the over one hundred countries where malaria is endemic. While scientists continue to research new means of treatment from vaccines to drugs, nations struggling with malaria have shifted focus to prevention. Recently, this means scientists have become particularly interested in mosquito behavior to develop better, cost-effective control mechanisms. But a new study in PLoS ONE today suggests we know less than we might have thought, and that the parasite may be influencing its host mosquitos in ways we never even imagined.
“So far, most studies of Anopheles gambiae mosquito behavior have been conducted with uninfected mosquitoes,” write the authors, “but our data demonstrate that such results may not be representative of infected mosquitoes.” Previous studies found that Plasmodium-infected mosquitosprobe skin more, bite more often and ingest larger meals than uninfected ones, but the scientific team comprised of scientists from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States wondered whether infected mosquitos behave differently before they land.
Many parasites with multiple hosts are known to alter one hosts’ behavior to increase transmission to the next. Toxoplasma gondii, for example, suppresses rats’ fear of cats by altering how they respond to feline smells. The research team wondered if Plasmodium could control mosquitos along the same lines, so they tested how uninfected and infected mosquitos reacted to the scent of human skin. Their results were staggeringly significant. Infected Anopheles mosquitos landed on the human-scented surface more than three times as often as non-infected mosquitos. “These results suggest that malaria-infectious females are more attracted to human odors than uninfected mosquitoes,” write the authors. “This is the first indication of a change in [mosquito] behavior in response to human odor, caused by infection with P. falciparum.”
The authors hope this research spurs further study into the ways in whichPlasmodium alters mosquito senses. New types of attractant smells, for example, could lead to breakthroughs in trapping technology and provide powerful allies in the struggle against malaria.
EMBO reports encourages and publishes articles that report novel findings of wide biological significance in the areas of development, immunology, neuroscience, plant biology, structural biology, genomic & computational biology, genome stability &...
In the last two decades, the widespread application of genetic and genomic approaches has revealed a bacterial world astonishing in its ubiquity and diversity. This review examines how a growing knowledge of the vast range of animal–bacterial interactions, whether in shared ecosystems or intimate symbioses, is fundamentally altering our understanding of animal biology. Specifically, we highlight recent technological and intellectual advances that have changed our thinking about five questions: how have bacteria facilitated the origin and evolution of animals; how do animals and bacteria affect each other’s genomes; how does normal animal development depend on bacterial partners; how is homeostasis maintained between animals and their symbionts; and how can ecological approaches deepen our understanding of the multiple levels of animal–bacterial interaction. As answers to these fundamental questions emerge, all biologists will be challenged to broaden their appreciation of these interactions and to include investigations of the relationships between and among bacteria and their animal partners as we seek a better understanding of the natural world.
Surface cracks create sites for pathogen invasion. Yew trees (Taxus) hyperbranch from long-lived buds that lie underneath the bark [ 1 ], resulting in persistent bark cracking and deep air pockets, potentially allowing pathogens to enter the nutrient-rich vascular system (vertical phloem and inter-connected radial medullary rays [MR]). Yew is famous as the source of the anti-cancer diterpenoid drug Taxol. A mystery has been why both the tree and its resident non-pathogenic fungi (endophytes) synthesize Taxol, apparently redundantly [ 2–7 ]. These endophytes, as well as pure Taxol, suppress fungal pathogens including wood-decaying fungi (WDF) [ 8–11 ]. Here we show that a Taxol-producing fungal endophyte, Paraconiothyrium SSM001 [ 12 ], migrates to pathogen entry points including branch cracks. The fungus sequesters Taxol in intracellular hydrophobic bodies that are induced by WDF for release by exocytosis, after which the bodies can coalesce to form remarkable extracellular barriers, laced with the fungicide. We propose that microbial construction of fungicide-releasing hydrophobic barriers might be a novel plant defense mechanism. We further propose that the endophyte might be evolutionarily analogous to animal immune cells, in that it might expand plant immunity by acting as an autonomous, anti-pathogen sentinel that monitors the vascular system.
Parasites Change Bees Brains, but Not Their Behavior Science Daily (press release) July 17, 2013 — Honey bees Apis mellifera) infected with the parasitic mite, Varroa destructor, or the microsporidia, Nosema ceranae, have changes in the chemical...
Zombies have long been a part of our storytelling culture, with stories about zombies originating in the Afro-Caribbean spiritual belief system of Voodoo and the belief that witchcraft could raise corpses from the dead.
New fungus discovered in Fukushima The Japan News Unlike other caterpillar fungus in Japan, tsubugata-aritake is a “takeover” type that feeds on insects such as ants and cicadas that have already been parasitized by another tochukaso,...
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