Toxoplasma gondii infection reduces predator aversion in rats through epigenetic modulation in the host medial amygdala
Abstract excerpt: “These results demonstrate an epigenetic proximate mechanism underlying the extended phenotype in the Rattus novergicus – Toxoplasma gondii association.”
Excerpt: “It looks like it will be a general strategy used by pathogens,” said Dr. Kim.
I’ve requested a copy of the journal article to see if the “general strategy” incorporates DNA methylation, alternative splicings of pre-mRNA, and nutrient-dependent amino acid substitutions that differentiate cell types in the amygdala and also differentiate morphological and behavioral phenotypes in species from microbes to man via conserved molecular mechanisms.
Excerpt 2): “Manipulating the behavior of a host is a fairly common strategy among parasites, but it’s hard to fathom how they manage it.”
The link from the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genomes of insects and mammals may be difficult to understand, but it is not hard to fathom. Epigenetic effects on hormones lead to affects on behavior as detailed in my 2012 review:
Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors
Conclusion: “Socioaffective neuroscience and psychology may progress more quickly by keeping these apparent facts in mind: Olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans (Keller et al., 2007; Kohl, 2007; Villarreal, 2009; Vosshall, Wong, & Axel, 2000).”
See also my blog post from December 2011: