Tag Archives: microbiomes

Bacterial noise

The first English use of the term “parasite” was recorded sometime in the 1530s. Stemming from the Greek parasitos, “a person who eats at the table of another,” the early English term referred to “a hanger-on, a person who lives on others.” It was not until a century later that the term took on its biological meaning, “an organism that benefits at the expense of its host.”

From this definition, Trichuris muris, a nematode, has become a model organism for parasitism. A intracellular parasite of mice, T. muris is biologically similar to its cousin organism, Trichuris trichiura. The latter, also known as whipworm, parasites humans and causes trichuriasis once it has settled within the large intestine. Therefore, T. muris serves as a suitable substitute from which modern biology can explore, by experimentation, the dynamics through which T. trichiura produces the infection, itself a serious concern affecting over one billion persons in rural, low-income, and tropical regions. Continue reading