Thursday, March 9, 2017

Parasitic worm gene used to track down new host

Partnered with bacteria, Steinernema carpocapsae invade and kill insect hosts. While looking for a new host S. carpocapsae use a variety of techniques, such as jumping or standing on its tail while waving its head, to lure in a new host. In the study scientists used a process call RNA interference (RNAi) to look for a link between genes and the behaviors used to find a new host. RNAi reduces the expression of genes so the scientists can examine their function. The scientists used RNAi to reduce a gene that codes for a molecule known as FLP-21. Taking away the FLP-21 hindered the ability of jumping and tail standing implying that regulation of these behaviors is linked to FLP-21.
Scientists have also discovered where in the body FLP-21 can be found. chemical and imaging techniques have shown that FLP-21 is located in the neurons in the worms head. Finding what causes the behaviors of host hunting has allowed scientists to conclude that S. carpocapsae can be an excellent model organism to study parasites in mammals without actually having to use infected mammals.

I thought this was a very interesting article. I think it's great to have an organism we can use to study parasitic infections in mammals without having the infect a mammal.

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