Vampire Plant Also Sucks Hosts Genes, While Feeding

by Tanya Lewis

Like an herbivorous Count Dracula, a snakelike vine coils around its leafy victim, punctures its stem and proceeds to suck out its life juices.

The parasitic plant Cuscuta pentagona, commonly known as strangleweed or dodder, preys on many common crop plants. Not only does the parasite siphon water and nutrients from its host, but it also exchanges genetic messages with its victim, according to a study detailed today (Aug. 15) in the journal Science.

The findings reveal a new way that plants communicate with each other, and the study may help scientists understand how to combat parasitic plants that destroy food crops around the world, the researchers said.

(via: Live Science)

libutron
libutron:

Sapria poilanei - a rare parasitic plant
As the other species in Rafflesiaceae Family, Sapria poilanei (Malpighiales - Rafflesiaceae) is a parasitic flowering plant, that lacks of chlorophyll and rely upon their host plant for both water and nutrients, emerging from the host only as ephemeral flowers during sexual reproduction.
These plants lack vegetative parts and grow as strands of cells embedded within the stem and root tissues of their host. The aerial portions of the plant consist only of solitary red flowers with 10 lobes.
Sapria poilanei is only found in a small area of Cambodia rainforests.
Reference: [1] - [2]
Photo credit: ©Jeremy Holden
Locality: Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia

libutron:

Sapria poilanei - a rare parasitic plant

As the other species in Rafflesiaceae Family, Sapria poilanei (Malpighiales - Rafflesiaceae) is a parasitic flowering plant, that lacks of chlorophyll and rely upon their host plant for both water and nutrients, emerging from the host only as ephemeral flowers during sexual reproduction.

These plants lack vegetative parts and grow as strands of cells embedded within the stem and root tissues of their host. The aerial portions of the plant consist only of solitary red flowers with 10 lobes.

Sapria poilanei is only found in a small area of Cambodia rainforests.

Reference: [1] - [2]

Photo credit: ©Jeremy Holden

Locality: Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia

Bizarre Jurassic Parasite Fossil Found in China
by Jeanna Bryner
The fossil of a wild-looking parasite with a tiny head and whose midbody evolution transformed into a sucking plate, has been discovered in what is now northeastern China.

Some 165 million years ago, the parasite — a 0.7 inch-long (2 centimeters) fly larva — would’ve crept onto passing salamanders and other amphibians, latched onto their bodies with a sucker and then used its piercing mouthparts to slurp up the host’s blood.
The larva — now called Qiyia jurassica, or “Qiyia,” which means “bizarre” in Chinese, and “jurassica,” for the time period in which it lived — sported a relatively tiny, tube-shaped head tipped with its blood-sucking mouthparts, a midbody or thorax that worked as a sucker and caterpillarlike hind legs…
(read more: Live Science)
illustration by Yang Dingua, Nanjing

Bizarre Jurassic Parasite Fossil Found in China

by Jeanna Bryner

The fossil of a wild-looking parasite with a tiny head and whose midbody evolution transformed into a sucking plate, has been discovered in what is now northeastern China.

Some 165 million years ago, the parasite — a 0.7 inch-long (2 centimeters) fly larva — would’ve crept onto passing salamanders and other amphibians, latched onto their bodies with a sucker and then used its piercing mouthparts to slurp up the host’s blood.

The larva — now called Qiyia jurassica, or “Qiyia,” which means “bizarre” in Chinese, and “jurassica,” for the time period in which it lived — sported a relatively tiny, tube-shaped head tipped with its blood-sucking mouthparts, a midbody or thorax that worked as a sucker and caterpillarlike hind legs…

(read more: Live Science)

illustration by Yang Dingua, Nanjing

To Beat a Parasite, Fairy Wrens Teach Their Young a Secret Password     

by Mary Bates 

A few years ago, Diane Colombelli-Négrel, Sonia Kleindorfer, and colleagues from Flinders University in Australia discovered a remarkable way one bird fights back against brood parasites, like Cuckoos.

Female superb fairy-wrens teach their embryos a “password” while they’re still in their eggs. Each female’s incubation call contains a unique acoustic element. After they hatch, fairy-wren chicks incorporate this unique element into their begging calls to ask for food. Colombelli-Négrel, Kleindorfer, and colleagues showed that chicks whose begging calls most resembled their mothers’ incubation calls received more food. But the brood parasites of the fairy-wren, Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos, produced begging calls that did not so closely resemble the parental password.

In a new study, Colombelli-Négrel, Kleindorfer, and colleagues again looked at the relationship between superb fairy-wrens and Horsfield’s bronze-cuckoos to see if a greater threat of brood parasitism would cause the fairy-wren to up its teaching efforts…

(read more: Wired Science)

photos of female and nest by Diane Colombelli-Negrel; photo of male by JJ Harrison

Look Into The Face Of Gnathostoma Spinigerum, A Worm That Infects Eels… And People
A team of U.S. researchers found the microscopic worms in 28 percent of eels sold live in U.S. markets.
by Francie Diep
Aww, aren’t they cute? These are scanning electron microscope images of nematodes of the species Gnathostoma spinigerum. You could get these little critters from eating imported eels that are sold live in markets. Adorbs!
The images come from a new paper published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists bought 47 swamp eels of the species Monopterus cuchia from markets in Atlanta, Georgia; Orlando, Florida; and New York City’s Manhattan Chinatown. Thirteen of the eels had Gnathostoma spinigerum nematodes, which are able to infect humans when they (the nematodes) are just the right age…
(read more: Popular Science)
images: Rebecca A. Cole et al., Emerging Infectious Diseases

Look Into The Face Of Gnathostoma Spinigerum, A Worm That Infects Eels… And People

A team of U.S. researchers found the microscopic worms in 28 percent of eels sold live in U.S. markets.

by Francie Diep

Aww, aren’t they cute? These are scanning electron microscope images of nematodes of the species Gnathostoma spinigerum. You could get these little critters from eating imported eels that are sold live in markets. Adorbs!

The images come from a new paper published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists bought 47 swamp eels of the species Monopterus cuchia from markets in Atlanta, Georgia; Orlando, Florida; and New York City’s Manhattan Chinatown. Thirteen of the eels had Gnathostoma spinigerum nematodes, which are able to infect humans when they (the nematodes) are just the right age…

(read more: Popular Science)

images: Rebecca A. Cole et al., Emerging Infectious Diseases

What are Bat Flies?
Bat flies are highly modified true flies. They are members of the order Diptera, and currently are grouped into two families, the Nycteribiidae, and the Streblidae. They are also bloodsucking ectoparasites, living in the fur, or on the wing membranes of bats.
Nycteribiidae are wingless, have reduced eyes, and a spiderlike appearance. This is because their legs actually insert dorsally into the thorax.  Streblidae have varying degrees of wing reduction, and appear more like a regular fly. They also have reduced eyes. All bat flies are viviparous, meaning that a third larval stage is borne from the female fly, which is then glued to a structure in the surroundings of the roost. Once deposited, the larva immediately pupates. Depending on the species, these pupae may be located close to the roost, or at quite some distance from the roost…
(read more: Bat Fly Research - SUNY Buffalo)    
(image: Penicillidia monoceros (female), Taken off of a Northern Bat (Eptesicus nilssonii) ; taken by Brundlefly @ Diptera.info)

What are Bat Flies?

Bat flies are highly modified true flies. They are members of the order Diptera, and currently are grouped into two families, the Nycteribiidae, and the Streblidae. They are also bloodsucking ectoparasites, living in the fur, or on the wing membranes of bats.

Nycteribiidae are wingless, have reduced eyes, and a spiderlike appearance. This is because their legs actually insert dorsally into the thorax.  Streblidae have varying degrees of wing reduction, and appear more like a regular fly. They also have reduced eyes. All bat flies are viviparous, meaning that a third larval stage is borne from the female fly, which is then glued to a structure in the surroundings of the roost. Once deposited, the larva immediately pupates. Depending on the species, these pupae may be located close to the roost, or at quite some distance from the roost…

(read more: Bat Fly Research - SUNY Buffalo)    

(image: Penicillidia monoceros (female), Taken off of a Northern Bat (Eptesicus nilssonii) ; taken by Brundlefly @ Diptera.info)

brianerosephotography asked:

Hello! I absolutely love your blog. I just recently went on an oceanography field trip to Port Aransas, Texas and we got to see the BIGGEST isopod our guide had ever encountered. It was pulled out of a croaker's mouth that we caught while trawling. How will the croaker be impacted? I'd love to know more about these kind of disturbingly horrible critters and I thought you'd be a great person to ask! Thanks for being fantastic! And HAPPY HALLOWEEN ^_^

Parasitic Isopods

Oh awesome, the beaches and the marshes at Port Aransas are beautiful!

Well some parasitic isopods attach to the inside of the mouth and feed on what the fish is feeding on, while others feed on mucous or blood from the fish itself. Many of these isopods cause negligible damage to the fish, and don’t seem to affect it in the long term. Some parasitic isopods that attach to the gills and draw blood from them can apparently inhibit further growth of the fish and cause it to generally slow down in its daily life. I assume these individuals are less likely to mate successfully and to escape predation

In the case of Cymothoa exigua, it appears that it atrophies the tongue of the fish by drawing off blood, and then replaces the fish’s tongue with it’s own body… it then feeds off of food the fish is eating. It is believed that it doesnt harm the fish further than this. Yes, strangely enough, the fish is able to live relatively unharmed with a parasitic isopod for a tongue!

Vampire Finches (Geospiza difficilis septrionalis)
This bird is most famous for its unusual diet. The Vampire Finch occasionally feeds by drinking the blood of other birds, chiefly the Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, pecking at their skin with their sharp beaks until blood is drawn. Curiously, the boobies do not offer much resistance against this. It has been theorized that this behavior evolved from the pecking behavior that the finch used to clean parasites from the plumage of the booby. The finches also feed on eggs, stealing them just after they are laid and rolling them (by pushing with their legs and using their beak as a pivot) into rocks until they break…

(read more: Wikipedia)  (photo via: Animal Vampires)

Vampire Finches (Geospiza difficilis septrionalis)

This bird is most famous for its unusual diet. The Vampire Finch occasionally feeds by drinking the blood of other birds, chiefly the Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, pecking at their skin with their sharp beaks until blood is drawn. Curiously, the boobies do not offer much resistance against this. It has been theorized that this behavior evolved from the pecking behavior that the finch used to clean parasites from the plumage of the booby. The finches also feed on eggs, stealing them just after they are laid and rolling them (by pushing with their legs and using their beak as a pivot) into rocks until they break…

(read more: Wikipedia)  (photo via: Animal Vampires)

The Thrip Mite (Adactylidium), a Tale of Incest and Matricide!
Adactylidium is a genus of mites known for its unusual life cycle. The pregnant female mite feeds upon a single egg of a thrips, growing five to eight female offspring and one male in her body. The offspring devour their mother from the inside out, and the single male mite mates with all the daughters when they are  still in the mother. The females, now impregnated, cut holes in their  mother’s body so that they can emerge to find new thrips eggs. The male  emerges as well, but does not look for food or new mates, and dies after  a few hours. The females die at the age of 4 days, when their own  offspring eat them alive from the inside.
(text via: Wikipedia)   (photo via: Suededeutsche)

The Thrip Mite (Adactylidium), a Tale of Incest and Matricide!

Adactylidium is a genus of mites known for its unusual life cycle. The pregnant female mite feeds upon a single egg of a thrips, growing five to eight female offspring and one male in her body. The offspring devour their mother from the inside out, and the single male mite mates with all the daughters when they are still in the mother. The females, now impregnated, cut holes in their mother’s body so that they can emerge to find new thrips eggs. The male emerges as well, but does not look for food or new mates, and dies after a few hours. The females die at the age of 4 days, when their own offspring eat them alive from the inside.

(text via: Wikipedia)   (photo via: Suededeutsche)

Horsehair Worms, Parasites on Insects
The adults are mostly free living in freshwater or marine environments, and males and females aggregate into tight balls (Gordian knots) during mating. The  larvae are parasitic on beetles, cockroaches, orthopterans, and crustaceans.
In Spinochordodes tellinii, which has orthopterans (crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids) as its vector,  the infection acts on the insect’s brain and causes it to seek water  and drown itself, thus returning the nematomorph to water. They are also remarkably able to survive the predation of their host,  being able to wriggle out of the predator that has eaten the host…
(read more: Wikipedia)
(photo: Spinochordodes tellinii and its katydid host, D. Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa)

Horsehair Worms, Parasites on Insects

The adults are mostly free living in freshwater or marine environments, and males and females aggregate into tight balls (Gordian knots) during mating. The larvae are parasitic on beetles, cockroaches, orthopterans, and crustaceans.

In Spinochordodes tellinii, which has orthopterans (crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids) as its vector, the infection acts on the insect’s brain and causes it to seek water and drown itself, thus returning the nematomorph to water. They are also remarkably able to survive the predation of their host, being able to wriggle out of the predator that has eaten the host…

(read more: Wikipedia)

(photo: Spinochordodes tellinii and its katydid host, D. Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa)

Horsehair Worms
by John L. Capinera
This relatively small group of large worms (phylum Nematomorpha) is found throughout world, but usually is restricted to areas near water.  About 11 species occur in the United States. These worms resemble nematodes, but are very long, usually 30 to 40 cm but sometimes 120 cm in length, and quite narrow in diameter, often only 1 mm.  The adults are featureless, with a blunt head and slightly swollen tail.  The color is usually mauve-brown to black.  The sexes are separate…
(read more: Univ. of Florida)   (photo: Ian Sutton)  

Horsehair Worms

by John L. Capinera

This relatively small group of large worms (phylum Nematomorpha) is found throughout world, but usually is restricted to areas near water. About 11 species occur in the United States. These worms resemble nematodes, but are very long, usually 30 to 40 cm but sometimes 120 cm in length, and quite narrow in diameter, often only 1 mm. The adults are featureless, with a blunt head and slightly swollen tail. The color is usually mauve-brown to black. The sexes are separate…

(read more: Univ. of Florida)   (photo: Ian Sutton)