Mind control is not exclusively in the realm of science fiction – nor are zombies for that matter. Both exist in a very real sense in the world of parasites. This is probably most famously known in the real world for the parasitic wasps that make their victims appear to act as willing slaves who will roll over and die for their new masters – or perhaps, in the world of sci-fi, in Robert Heinlein’s ‘Puppet Masters.’ The opening article by Karthyn Knight and the guest editorial by Shelley Adamo and Joanne Webster provide excellent starting points for those who have not thought about this much and would like a good introduction,
The latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology is out, and it’s all on how parasites manipulate the behaviour of hosts! Go see the contents here: http://jeb.biologists.org/content/current
We all know about how Toxoplasma modifies the behaviour of infected rodents, making them more brazen and therefore less likely to run away from predators,and how fungus can take over ants and make them want to run to the tops of bades of grass in an effort to be eaten by another host. The papers in this special issue delve into the topic and provide some really great evidence andexamples of parasites being able to manipulate their hosts by altering their behviour.
I’d seen this special issue via a couple of different sources (@The_Episiarch and @Evolutionistrue on Twitter),but weirdly, on Jerry Coyne’s blog post linked to his tweet, he referred to parasites as “so-called ‘simple’ organisms” (presumably his use of quotation marks…
View original post 56 more words