October 20th Microbiota and Manipulation

We mentioned in the last class that many parasites consume the gonads of their hosts. As an example, the gonad consuming parasite Euhaplorchis californiensis has been described by Kevin Lafferty, a parasitologist at UC Santa Barbara. Read an account of this manipulative parasite here. (Of note, Kevin taught parasitology to me when I was at UCSB and accompanied both Roland Cooper and me on biological field expeditions back in the day.) As E. californiensis illustrates,manipulation of behavior and host physiology has been documented in a variety of animal species. But can it happen in humans?

Readings:

1 How Pernicious Parasites Turn Victims into Zombies.

2 Alcock J, Maley C, Aktipis A. (2014) Is eating behavior manipulated by the gastrointestinal microbiota? Evolutionary pressures and potential mechanisms. Bioessays.

Writing assignment: Why is overeating a problem for so many people? Are food cravings adaptive for us humans? Or for microbes? (You may also look up additional sources.)

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