Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wildebeest Or Malaria Parasite -- Same Rules Determine Number Of Offspring

Date:
January 16, 2008
Source:
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Summary:
The same community ecology principles that determine how different animal species on the savannah affect each other's population sizes through competition for food and hunting by predators also affect parasite species interacting within the microcosm of a single host. The research has implications for treating many human and animal infections.

Whether you are dealing with the number of wildebeest on the Serengeti or the number of malaria parasites in the human body, new research shows the same ecological framework determines breeding numbers and population size. New research shows that the same community ecology principles that determine how different animal species on the savannah affect each other's population sizes through competition for food and hunting by predators also affect parasite species interacting within the microcosm of a single host.

Related Articles


The research has important implications for treating many human and animal infections, including malaria and viruses. These infections rarely occur singularly and the research at the University of Edinburgh suggests that a range of drugs used to treat infection by parasitic worms may alter the effectiveness of anti-malarial and anti-viral treatments by affecting the level of competition among parasite species.

The research, conducted by Dr Andrea Graham, a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) David Phillips Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, examined data from a large number of animal studies of coinfection. A microparasite infection such as malaria often occurs in people already suffering from other parasites, such as worms. The research shows that these multiple infections affect each other by competing for host nutrients or by generating an impaired immune system response. The effect is the same as if a large herd of wildebeest started to eat all the available food in an area of the Serengeti.

Analogously, the study found that if a host was suffering from a worm infection that caused a reduction in a nutrient needed by another parasite in the body at the same time, the second parasite would be reduced in number. Conversely, if a worm infection suppressed the immune response, other parasites would explode in numbers, just as zebras would rapidly breed in the absence of lions.

Dr Graham said: "People and animals do not normally suffer just one parasite infection at a time. By applying the same ideas used in studies of big ecosystems to parasites I have been able to show that we need ecological thinking in order to understand and thus control multiple infections. This approach will help us to most effectively treat diseases such as malaria in a world that's full of co-infected hosts.

"Researchers have mostly studied and treated viral and bacterial infections in isolation. This is because multiple-species infections were previously thought to be far too complex to be understood. Now I've shown that we need to think like ecologists to make the problem more controllable."

Professor Nigel Brown, BBSRC Directory of Science and Technology, said: "This research focuses on understanding the fundamental biology of parasite infections but has huge practical implications. Ecological principles are here shown to have huge potential in understanding and treating parasitic disease, and shows the importance of interdisciplinary thinking in science and medicine."

Malaria causes disease in over 500 million each year and kills approximately 1-3 million. The majority of sufferers are in Sub-Saharan Africa. The disease is caused by protozoan parasites which are spread by mosquitoes.

The research is published on 15 January in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 'Ecological rules governing helminth--microparasite coinfection', Andrea L Graham, pp. 566-570, Issue 2, Volume 105.

Dr Graham's research is funded by around 1M of fellowship funding from the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "Wildebeest Or Malaria Parasite -- Same Rules Determine Number Of Offspring." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080114193627.htm>.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. (2008, January 16). Wildebeest Or Malaria Parasite -- Same Rules Determine Number Of Offspring. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080114193627.htm
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. "Wildebeest Or Malaria Parasite -- Same Rules Determine Number Of Offspring." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080114193627.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

Raw: Baby Okapi Born at Houston Zoo

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) The Houston Zoo released video of a male baby okapi. Okapis, also known as the "forest giraffe", are native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa. Video is mute from source. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Mysterious Glow Worms Found in the Amazon

Buzz60 (Nov. 20, 2014) Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer teamed up with entomologist Aaron Pomerantz and others to investigate a predatory glow worm found in the Amazon. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins