Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bizarre bug wears host’s skin

04.06.2003


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.


Observing the enclosed parasites in a liquid medium showed that Strepsiptera grew, molted, and absorbed all its nutrients through the bag. DNA tests of the bag confirmed that it was indeed host-derived.

“Parasitoids have evolved a variety of strategies for overcoming the host immune response,” says Dr Kathirithamby. “This mechanism of camouflage adopted by Strepsitera has not been observed in any other group before, and is yet another fascinating feature of these unique parasites.”

Ruth Collier | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ox.ac.uk/media

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers discover vaccine to strengthen the immune system of plants
24.01.2020 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

nachricht Brain-cell helpers powered by norepinephrine during fear-memory formation
24.01.2020 | RIKEN

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Integrate Micro Chips for electronic Skin

Researchers from Dresden and Osaka present the first fully integrated flexible electronics made of magnetic sensors and organic circuits which opens the path towards the development of electronic skin.

Human skin is a fascinating and multifunctional organ with unique properties originating from its flexible and compliant nature. It allows for interfacing with...

Im Focus: Dresden researchers discover resistance mechanism in aggressive cancer

Protease blocks guardian function against uncontrolled cell division

Researchers of the Carl Gustav Carus University Hospital Dresden at the National Center for Tumor Diseases Dresden (NCT/UCC), together with an international...

Im Focus: New roles found for Huntington's disease protein

Crucial role in synapse formation could be new avenue toward treatment

A Duke University research team has identified a new function of a gene called huntingtin, a mutation of which underlies the progressive neurodegenerative...

Im Focus: A new look at 'strange metals'

For years, a new synthesis method has been developed at TU Wien (Vienna) to unlock the secrets of "strange metals". Now a breakthrough has been achieved. The results have been published in "Science".

Superconductors allow electrical current to flow without any resistance - but only below a certain critical temperature. Many materials have to be cooled down...

Im Focus: Programmable nests for cells

KIT researchers develop novel composites of DNA, silica particles, and carbon nanotubes -- Properties can be tailored to various applications

Using DNA, smallest silica particles, and carbon nanotubes, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) developed novel programmable materials....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

11th Advanced Battery Power Conference, March 24-25, 2020 in Münster/Germany

16.01.2020 | Event News

Laser Colloquium Hydrogen LKH2: fast and reliable fuel cell manufacturing

15.01.2020 | Event News

„Advanced Battery Power“- Conference, Contributions are welcome!

07.01.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers discover vaccine to strengthen the immune system of plants

24.01.2020 | Life Sciences

Brain-cell helpers powered by norepinephrine during fear-memory formation

24.01.2020 | Life Sciences

Engineered capillaries model traffic in tiny blood vessels

24.01.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>