We know that parasites can make us sick, of course, and siphon off our nutrients, but
但令人惊讶的是 他们(寄生虫)中的一些 事实上可能是一个很大的数字
it’s very surprising to hear that some of them, in fact there may be a large number,
at least a hundred are known about at this point in time manipulate the behavior of their host
in order to enhance their own transmission.
And the best way to understand this phenomenon I think is with an example.
And one is a cat parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii or just Toxoplasma for short.
I first learned about this parasitic manipulation while just reading about scientific research
and I came across a study that showed that rodents that are infected with this parasite,
they can pick up the parasite from the ground.
Cats defecate this parasite so rodents as they arescavenging around can pick up the parasite
and it then invades their brain and it actuallytinkers with the animal’s neural circuits
in such a fashion that it makes it attracted to the scent of cat urine.
And when I say attracted I mean sexually attracted.
The rodents become sexually aroused by the scent of cat urine so they approach and
and needless to say they’re not long for this world and they soon end up in the belly of a cat
and that’s the only place where this parasite can sexually replicate.
So that’s its little trick.
And it does many other things as well.
For example, the same parasite goes to the testicles and
jacks up production of the sex hormone testosterone.
在雌性中 还没有人知道 它可以
In females, by means nobody’s figured out yet, it can
increase the level of the sexhormone progesterone.
And in both cases these changes make the rodent more embolden
可以说 导致他们降低警惕 愚蠢地对猫采取行动
and cause the rodent to sort of lower its guard and to act in foolish ways around cats.
So that’s yet another example of other tricks it has
for getting back into the belly of a cat.
This parasite can also infect us.
One of the ways we can get it is changing a cat’s litter box.
And the current thinking in medicine is that
the parasite it mainly poses a threat to a developing fetus
and can harm the developing baby’s nervous system or even cause blindness.
And it’s also well known to be a threat to people who are immuno-compromised, so for
example, people who have received transplanted organs or being treated with chemotherapy.
And it’s still assumed that for most healthy people
it poses no threat that once the pararsite get inside the brain, and it just
hunkers down inside neurons never again to cause any problems.
But there’s now several labs, bothin Europe and the United States
that are challenging that dogma.
And they have uncovered a lot of evidence that for a small percentage of people the
dormant infection may indeed have adverse consequences.
Nobody yet has a handle on what percentage
but about 20 percent of all Americans are infected with the parasite.
So people’s guess is that we’re only talking about a small percentage of people who have
these adverse responses.
But among other things it’s a link to mental illness.
所以 例如精神分裂患者 他们的抗寄生虫抗原
So people with schizophrenia, for example, they are two to three times more likely to
have antigens against the parasite.
It’s also been linked to manic depression and it’s been linked to suicide.
There was actually a study done in 22 nations in Europe and the researchers found that suicide
increased in direct proportion to the prevalence of the parasite in each country.
And it’s been a link to dangerous driving.
Several studies in a few different countries have shown that people who test positive for
the parasite are more likely to be in car accidents.
So one theory, nobody knows for sure why what the reason for this association is, but one
还有人推测 就像啮齿动物会降低警惕 行为自大一样
theory is that just as rodents lower their guard behave in a cocky way maybe people behind
the wheel of a car are less vigilant.
Or there’s also research that shows that infected people have slightly slower reaction times
so that’s perhaps another factor that may influence their driving.
I should emphasize these are all correlational studies, but as scientists have learned more
about what this parasite does to the rodent brain it does make them think it’s plausible
that the dormant infection is indeed causing trouble for some individuals.
There are many amazing examples of parasites in nature that are manipulating behavior.
One of my favorite examples is a parasitic barnacle.
You know, suspend any preconceived notions you have about barnacles
because this of barnacle is very iconoclastic;
it doesn’t have a shell; it doesn’t attach to the sides of peers or to rocks.
It’s free-living during one phase of its lifecycle, which at that point it can alight on a crab
and inject a small clump of its cells into the crab.
And those cells then grow intoa tangle of root like structures
and these roots wrap around all the crab’s internalorgans and eventually even sterilize the crab.
And where the crab would normally grow a broodpouch on the bottom of its belly to incubate it’s young,
the parasitic barnacle pushes out of the craband grows a brood pouch of its own.
And from that moment forward this crab lives and exists solely to feed the parasite and
to take care of it’s young.
It waffs oxygen rich water around the brood pouch to
keep the parasite’s offspring well oxygenated.
And then when its young are ready to be born the crab then goes into deeper water
and bobs up and down and releases the parasite’s babies into the currents
where they then go off into the world only to commandeer the minds and bodies of more crabs.
我的意思是 对我来说 这是最接近现实生活的盗尸者
I mean to me this is the closest real life thing to a body snatcher,
science fiction’s idea of a body snatcher.
Because I even call them robocrabs
because they are basically like an amphibious robot controlled by this parasitic barnacle.
There is many other great examples in nature.
Another one that I think is very impressive is a parasitic wasp
and it will grab hold of an Orb spider and attach its egg to the abdomen of the spider.
And then as this egg hatches into a larva the larva secretes all kinds of chemicals
that effectively instruct the spider to build it a nursery.
So the spider abandons its normal weaving pattern, it stops making that sort of classic circular motif
and instead creates a sort of hammock like structure for the parasitic wasp’s larva
and the larva actually attach to the center of this net.
And the spider even weaves a sort of decorative motif around the parasite
to protect it from its own enemies.
It’s something even as think fundamental as
how a spider weaves can be radically changed by these parasitic wasps .
And there’s at least a dozen of them and they all induce completely different kinds of webs.
因此 关于寄生虫的操纵能力 我认为这个真的是一个令人印象极其深刻的例子
So that’s one example of I think a really impressive example of a parasitic manipulation.
There is a parasitic worm that gets into killifish, it’s a very common fish found in California esrines,
and it invades the fish’s brain and the fish as a result rise to the surface
and flip over on their sides and basically waive their fins at predatory birds that are circling overhead,
which that needless to say swoop down and eat the fish.
And the parasitized fish are much, much more likely to be caught by birds,
at least four times more likely to be caught.
And what the parasitic worm appears to do is it acts on parts of the brain
that are controlled by serotonin, the neurotransmitter serotonin.
And the infected fish seem normal and healthy in every single way mellow.
They’re like a fish on Prozac.
So that’s how that manipulation works.
另外一种操纵行为 想起来就令我发抖 它来自真菌
Another manipulation that actually makes me shudder when I even think about it, it’s a fungus.
And what happens is ants as they’re on the forest floor
and there is nothing domicile about this fungus
because as soon as it attaches to the ant
it burrows into the ant and it starts rapidly growing.
And as it’s doing this it instructs the ant
to go to the northwestern a part of plant
and then this fungus,
and this is the part of the creeps me out, like sprouts from the ant’s head
and it grows this long stock.
And at the tip of the stock is this fruiting body that then explodes
and rains spores down on more ants that are walking along the forest floor below.