Amazing animals-part 2
Mind control and biological warfare- the life of a parasitic wasp!
Imagine someone approaches you in the street saying that they’re trying for a baby, slightly weird, I mean you don’t even know this person, but then contemplate them injecting their eggs into you and turning you into a mindless host for their baby to develop in, pretty messed up right? This is a typical day in the life of a reproducing dinocampus coccinelea, the parasitic wasp that injects its eggs into another insect host such as a ladybird. Now obviously nobody wants a bunch of wasps to be growing in them until one day when they burst out in what looks like a scene out of the Ridley Scott’s Alien, so naturally the ladybird would put up a fight and destroy this foreign body, but that’s where the wasp gets really clever: the egg that the wasp injects is carrying a hybrid virus the wasp uses in a kind of biological warfare to disable the hosts immune response to stop it destroying the egg. This virus is believed to infect brain cells, not only preventing an immune response but also it is thought it turns the host into a ‘protector’ for the egg, in a strange act of mind control. The egg then hatches and leaves the host, like an angry ex-girlfriend, with a large hole to fill. There obviously wasn’t enough chemistry between them, or in this case biology.
- Julien Varaldi- Viruses as the raw material for eukaryote evolution: lessons from the parasitic wasp. Microbiology TODAY 42:1 February 2015