jm + parasites   3

Cordyceps even creepier than at first thought
Hughes’s team found that fungal cells infiltrate the ant’s entire body, including its head, but they leave its brain untouched. There are other parasites that manipulate their hosts without destroying their brains, says Kelly Weinersmith from Rice University. For example, one flatworm forms a carpet-like layer over the brain of the California killifish, leaving the brain intact while forcing the fish to behave erratically and draw the attention of birds—the flatworm’s next host. “But manipulation of ants by Ophiocordyceps is so exquisitely precise that it is perhaps surprising that the fungus doesn't invade the brain of its host,” Weinersmith says. [....]

So what we have here is a hostile takeover of a uniquely malevolent kind. Enemy forces invading a host’s body and using that body like a walkie-talkie to communicate with each other and influence the brain from afar. Hughes thinks the fungus might also exert more direct control over the ant’s muscles, literally controlling them “as a puppeteer controls as a marionette doll.” Once an infection is underway, he says, the neurons in the ant’s body—the ones that give its brain control over its muscles—start to die. Hughes suspects that the fungus takes over. It effectively cuts the ant’s limbs off from its brain and inserts itself in place, releasing chemicals that force the muscles there to contract. If this is right, then the ant ends its life as a prisoner in its own body. Its brain is still in the driver’s seat, but the fungus has the wheel.
biology  gross  cordyceps  fungi  fungus  ants  zombies  infection  brain  parasites 
20 days ago by jm
How to Read a Scientific Paper (About That Researcher With a Nematode in His Mouth) - Wired Science
Let’s rewind to September 2012. It was about then- according to this recently published report (paywall) in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine – that an “otherwise healthy, 36-year-old man” felt a rough patch in his mouth, a scaly little area his right cheek. It didn’t hurt. But then it didn’t stay there either. He started testing for it with his tongue. It traveled. It moved to the back of his mouth, then forward, coiled backwards again. In the language of science: “These rough patches would appear and disappear on a daily basis, giving the patient the indirect sense that there was an organism moving within the oral cavity.”
nematodes  parasites  biology  medicine  paper  gross  funny  wired  mouth 
october 2013 by jm
Today in nose-leech news -- it's a species!
'The T. rex leech uses its teeth to saw into the tissues of mammals' orifices, including eyes, urethras, rectums, and vaginas.' OH JESUS
nose  nose-leech  leeches  nature  horror  omgwtf  via:jwz  nightmare  parasites 
may 2011 by jm

Copy this bookmark:



description:


tags: