Oxford scientists have discovered a particularly macabre method one parasite (Strepsiptera) has for disguising itself in its insect host: it wraps itself in a piece of the host’s own body tissue. In this way the strepsipteran masquerades as ‘self’, and is protected from the insect’s immune system.
Strepsipteran larva: Stichotrema dallatorreanum Hofeneder (Myrmecolacidae) (Papua New Guinea). From Kathirithamby & al. (1998). Copyright © 1998 Taylor & Francis.
The mechanism whereby Strepsiptera flourish without interference from the host has so far been a mystery. Scientists have been intrigued by the exceptional diversity of host insects exploited by the parasite. They were even more mystified by the fact that in one family, males and females parasitize different insects: the males live inside ants, whilst the females live inside grasshoppers, mantids and crickets. What, they wondered, was the mechanism allowing Strepsiptera to overcome the immune response of such diverse hosts?
To find out more, Dr Jeyaraney Kathirithamby of the Department of Zoology and her colleagues observed samples of the parasite before, during and after host invasion. She saw that the larva of the parasite enters the insect by repeatedly jabbing against its cuticle with its head until it can burrow inside. Once it is just beneath the cuticle, it remains in constant motion and its ‘wriggling’ separates out the epidermis from the endocuticle until the epidermis encloses the larva. This eventually forms a kind of bag, which separates off, allowing the larva to move deeper inside the host, safe in its bag of tissue.
Ruth Collier | alfa
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy