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Originally posted by VoidOfHope
I wonder if the mushroom itself actually possesses intelligence or if it's some sort of pre-destinated patron of chemical processor driving it.
How flesh bug fools immune system
Scientists have shown how flesh-eating parasites responsible for the disfiguring tropical disease leishmaniasis dupe the immune system.
The parasites produce a gel which the latest study shows can fool specialised immune cells into feeding rather than killing them.
Malaria Parasites Use "Cloaking Devices" to Trick Body
parasites use elaborate forms of deception, such as molecular mimicry, to fool the human immune system, new gene studies say.
The discovery could lead to new vaccines for the disease, which kills millions and is rapidly becoming resistant to treatment.
Carlton and her team have discovered sets of genes and proteins that help the parasite successfully invade red blood cells and evade the immune system.
"Once the parasite is inside a red blood cell, it produces certain proteins to coat the surface of those cells," Carlton explained.
Continuous changes on the surfaces of the red blood cells prevent the body's defense mechanisms from detecting the parasites.
Among the 5,433 genes in the P. vivax genome, the researchers found 346 that help the parasites trick the immune system.
Do Parasites Rule the World?
Every living thing has at least one parasite that lives inside or on it, and many, including humans, have far more. Leopard frogs may harbor a dozen species of parasites, including nematodes in their ears, filarial worms in their veins, and flukes in their kidneys, bladders, and intestines. One species of Mexican parrot carries 30 different species of mites on its feathers alone. Often the parasites themselves have parasites, and some of those parasites have parasites of their own. Scientists have no idea of the exact number of species of parasites, but they do know one fact: Parasites make up the majority of species on Earth. Parasites can take the form of animals, including insects, flatworms, and crustaceans, as well as protozoa, fungi, plants, and viruses and bacteria. By one estimate, parasites may outnumber free-living species four to one. Indeed, the study of life is, for the most part, parasitology.
Most of the past century's research on parasites has gone into trying to fight the ones that cause devastating illness in humans, such as malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis. But otherwise, parasites have largely been neglected. Scientists have treated them with indifference, even contempt, viewing them as essentially hitchhikers on life's road. But recent research reveals that parasites are remarkably sophisticated and tenacious and may be as important to ecosystems as the predators at the top of the food chain. Some castrate their hosts and take over their minds. Others completely shut down the immune systems of their hosts. Some scientists now think parasites have been a dominant force, perhaps the dominant force, in the evolution of life.
The parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, has been transmitted indirectly from cats to roughly half the people on the planet, and it has been shown to affect human personalities in different ways.
Research has shown that women who are infected with the parasite tend to be warm, outgoing and attentive to others, while infected men tend to be less intelligent and probably a bit boring. But both men and women who are infected are more prone to feeling guilty and insecure.
Originally posted by pretty_vacant
Brain Parasite Epidemic
I think this was the thread that I read about a year or so ago.. It presents information similar to the OP. Where a parasite makes its way into the brains of rats and then drives them to suicide by hanging around areas where cats habituate.. So they are more likely to be eaten..
You know what this also reminds me of? The movie Shrooms. You'll understand when you see the ending.
[edit on 10/6/10 by pretty_vacant]