Posts Tagged ‘parasitism’

Research haikus

Research haikus

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research

Last month, the Zoology Department’s Dr. David Kelly launched his first book of Japanese short form poetry, Hammerscale from the Thrush’s Anvil. At the launch of the book, David invited us in the audience to try our hand at writing our own haikus. Taking him up on his challenge, and taking inspiration from his book, a few of us in the School of Natural Sciences have penned our own poems based on our areas of study. We even have a contribution from David Kelly himself! Trying not to sacrifice coherency at the alter of syllable number was [&hellip

A Nobel Pursuit

A Nobel Pursuit

By EcoEvo@TCD | News, Research

Splitting the atom, unlocking the secrets of radiation, or even leading a peaceful civil rights movement. I grew up knowing that these were the sorts of achievements that earn you a gold medal and an invitation to Sweden in mid-December. I have since learned that the annual ceremony held in honour of Alfred Nobel hasn’t always been awarded to the most deserving candidate, and that sometimes the winners simply stumbled upon a discovery that changed the world. This was not the case with the 2015 Nobel prize for Physiology and Medicine.   Scientists rarely aim for such [&hellip

Seminar series highlights: Amy Pederson and Christine Maggs

Seminar series highlights: Amy Pederson and Christine Maggs

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives, Seminars

As mentioned previously on the blog, Andrew Jackson and I started a new module this year called “Research Comprehension”. The module revolves around our Evolutionary Biology and Ecology seminar series and the continuous assessment for the module is in the form of blog posts discussing these seminars. We posted a selection of these earlier in the term, but now that the students have had their final degree marks we wanted to post the blogs with the best marks. This means there are more blog posts for some seminars than for others, though we’ve avoided reposting anything we’ve posted [&hellip

Neglected diseases: Ascaris

Neglected diseases: Ascaris

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research

It has been estimated that less than 10% of global spending on health research is devoted to diseases or conditions that account for 90% of the global disease burden. These are mostly diseases of the world’s poorest people. The general public, and funding agencies, often equate third world diseases with the big three killers; HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. There is, however, a group of conditions known as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) which have an even wider impact. They include some of the most common helminth parasites that, while don’t often kill, result in morbidity and debilitation. One [&hellip

Sampling gaps in our understanding of primate parasites

Sampling gaps in our understanding of primate parasites

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research

*by parasites here I am referring to all kinds of infectious disease causing agents including bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, helminths and arthropods. Why do we care about primate parasites? Many of the most devastating infectious diseases in humans have origins in wildlife. For example, the global AIDS pandemic originated through human contact with wild African primates and influenza viruses circulate among wild bird populations. These are not only historical occurrences. Recently, for example, rodents were identified as the source of a Hantavirus outbreak in Yosemite National Park, USA . As human populations continue to expand into new [&hellip

Good-bye Guinea worm?

Good-bye Guinea worm?

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

The media is all abuzz about the Carter Centre’s recent announcement that 542 cases of guinea worm infection were reported in 2012. That is a remarkable achievement, considering that 3.5million cases where the reported when the Carter Centre began their eradication programme in 1986. The guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis) is a particularly gruesome parasitic nematode that causes painful and debilitating disease. It is one species no one will be too sorry to see go. Well no one except the folks at the (tongue in cheek) Save the Guinea worm Foundation. Perversely, considering our track record of causing [&hellip

No animal is an island

No animal is an island

By EcoEvo@TCD | Reviews

No man is an island; the same could be said for the millions of life forms that populate our planet. Think of all the ways in which organisms interact with each other through predation, parasitism and the countless symbioses. Sometimes a pair of interacting partners can become inextricably linked such is their mutual dependence. Each one may provide the other with a resource it’s unable to obtain on its own. A recent collaboration explored instances when these interactions lead to the loss of a trait and showed the fragility of this situation. One of the examples the [&hellip

War of the worms

War of the worms

By EcoEvo@TCD | Reviews

Some of the most successful animals on earth live in societies characterised by a division of labour between reproducing and non-reproducing castes.  One role non-reproducing members may undertake is defence. Spectacular examples include the heavily armoured termites and ants. Recently a soldier caste was discovered in an entirely new and unexpected battleground, inside the bodies of snails. The soldiers? Tiny parasitic flatworms. Flatworms, or trematodes, have complicated life cycles, involving several different stages infecting a variety of host species. In one host, often a snail, a single trematode undergoes repeated clonal reproduction. Clones produce more clones or [&hellip

The not so black and white story of why the zebra got its stripes

The not so black and white story of why the zebra got its stripes

By EcoEvo@TCD | Reviews

Why are zebra black and white? I would hazard a guess your answer is camouflage, and you would be right… well, mostly. I would then bet you got the beast from which the zebra is hiding wrong. While the black and white stripes might disrupt outline of a zebra in the eyes of an ambushing lion or sprinting cheetah, the scientific evidence points to a much smaller blood thirsty devourer of zebra. Since the 1970s, experiments have shown that Tsetse flies are less attracted to black and white striped patterns than plain black, white or grey colours. Most [&hellip

The plight of the bumble bee; diapause, immunity and parasitic attack

The plight of the bumble bee; diapause, immunity and parasitic attack

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research

Bee populations are in severe decline, an alarming and worrying trend when you consider their vital importance as commercial and ecological pollinators. Research and media attention often focuses on afflictions of honeybees such as the Varroa mite and colony collapse disorder. However, parasites are also major contributors to the plight of the bumble bee. Bumble bee queens spend 6-9 months in diapause, a hibernation-like state which allows them to survive harsh winter weather. My research demonstrated that queens have reduced immune function during this time, leaving them vulnerable to infections and parasitic attack. Sphaerularia bombi is a [&hellip