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Likewise, it would make sense for sexually transmitted parasites to force their hosts to have sex more.
But biologists have found very few examples of this in nature. A new study may explain why. Then they turned the two strains loose in a hypothetical host population and watched the parasites compete until the mutant strain either died out or replaced its ancestor.
They then watched the two strains compete again, introduced yet another, stronger mutant when the old one outcompeted its predecessor, and so on. In most simulations, the mutants did not evolve toward making their hosts have more sexthe team reports in the 7 February issue of the Journal of Theoretical Biology. The researchers speculate that sexual mind control either costs too much energy for the parasite, causes too much harm to the host, or both.
For example, the host might become so focused on sex that it doesn't spend enough time searching for food and water. Furthermore, for a parasite to alter its host's sex drive, it might have to pour a lot of its energy into pumping out powerful hormones, which could weaken it in the long term. The findings will help epidemiologists better understand how sexually transmitted diseases spread—not only parasites visible to the naked eye, but also bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic invaders, says evolutionary biologist Patrick Abbot, of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who was not involved with the work.
Describing the characteristics of mating-enhancing parasites and their host populations may also help field biologists find more of such parasites in the real world, he notes. By Elizabeth Pennisi Jul. By Warren Cornwall Jul. By Mennatalla Ibrahim Jul. All rights Reserved. Mind over body. The Ophiocordyceps fungus turns ants into zombies.
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Science Insider. By Rachel Fritts Jul. Some pikas survive the winter by eating yak poop By Rachel Fritts Jul. Gene therapy restores missing dopamine in children with rare brain disease By Mennatalla Ibrahim Jul. Climate change has made hurricanes more dangerous, but not more frequent By Rachel Fritts Jul. Dense swarms of fireflies flash in unison By Rachel Fritts Jul. Physicists take the most detailed image of atoms to date By Anil Oza Jun. Past pandemics offer clues.Mind control sex
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