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 means that he does not think they’re simple!). Perhaps it’s obvious only to parasitologists, but some parasites have incredibly complex and quite elegant biology and ecology, often with numerous different hosts and conditions required for different life stages, so I’d say that they are far from simple.
Maybe I should get some of these t-shirts made: