Turning your victim into a collaborator: exploitation of insect behavioral control systems by parasitic manipulators.


Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, B3H4R2, Canada. Electronic address: [Email]


Some parasites manipulate host behavior by exploiting the host's behavioral control networks. This review explores two examples of this approach using parasites from opposite ends of the size spectrum, that is, viruses and parasitic insects. The first example explores the use of the gene (egt) by some baculoviruses to deactivate the hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone. Suppressing this chemical signal prevents the expression of behaviors that could reduce viral transmission. The second example explores how a parasitic wasp uses the host's immune/neural communication system to control host behavior. When a host's manipulated behavior requires complex neural coordination, exploitation of host behavioral control systems is likely to be involved. Simpler host behaviors can be induced by damage to host tissues.