Intestinal worms have an incredibly bad reputation. The thought of them sneaking around inside our bodies and eating us from the inside is pretty unpleasant. But for decades, results coming out of lab after lab have shown that some kinds of helminths can be extremely beneficial to their host, and aren’t parasites at…
The 2015 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine just went to three scientists who found parasite-killing chemicals that are now important tools for fighting human diseases. But the chemicals in question weren’t created in a lab: one is produced naturally by a bacterium, the other by a plant used in a traditional…
Allergies such as peanut allergy and hay fever make millions of us miserable, but scientists aren’t even sure why they exist. One master immunologist is offering up a controversial answer.
Roommate disputes can have some pretty gruesome consequences, but there is one case from 1970 in which one man was accused of using his research against his hated roomies. His weapon: Ascaris suum, the parasite that he was studying in school and which he allegedly used to make his roommates very ill.
Physicians in the UK were unable to explain a strange ring-like pattern moving across a patient's brain tissue in a series of scans taken over four years. During a biopsy, they were shocked to learn it was a one centimeter-long parasitic tape worm.
Parasites are nature's freeloaders, living off their hosts while giving nothing in return. But scientists have come to appreciate that even the greediest parasites can indirectly benefit other species by manipulating ecosystems—providing food, assisting predators and even building habitats.
Tonight's episode of Through the Wormhole asks a question near-and-dear to our hearts: Could a zombie apocalypse actually happen? We spoke to host Morgan Freeman and producer Megan Parlen to learn more.
Researchers in the UK have unlocked the mystery behind a freaky bacterial pathogen that hijacks a plant's reproductive capacities — a nefarious process that essentially converts hosts into the living dead.
Last week, science journalist Ed Yong gave a very uncharacteristic TED talk. It wasn't designed to make you feel good — in fact, it was actually a bit sarcastic, full of crawly descriptions of how parasites control behavior. But it blew the audience away.
Plants may not have a cerebral cortex, but that doesn't mean they haven't evolved effective forms of alternative intelligence. As a recent study of the Barberry and its parasites shows, some plants exhibit a form of memory — and even anticipate future risks.
Centuries ago, scientists relied on paintings and illustrations of animals to learn more about their anatomy. Today, that biology-art bond is as strong as ever. This is Carly Tribull, a PhD student studying the evolution of parasitic wasps, who uses her scientific knowledge and artistic talent to create fun…
Scientists have learned that a common parasite of sea turtles is capable of surviving ridiculously cold temperatures — a finding that could lead to the development of advanced cryopreservation techniques.
Throughout the tropical forests of the world, there's a parasitic fungus that turns unwitting ants into "zombies." Just how the fungus is able to control the brains of its insect slaves is unknown, but Charissa de Bekker, a post-doctoral researcher at Penn State University, is determined to find out. We caught up with…
It's common scientific wisdom that parasite resistance comes from repeated exposure to a parasite. But a new study has turned this idea on its head. Guppies who were removed from rivers swarming with parasites actually evolved an improved parasite tolerance in just a few generations. Here's how it happened.
Remember those oarfish that washed ashore a few weeks ago in California? Scientists are busy at work studying these elusive serpent-like sea monsters, and they're discovering a lot about their ecology and habitat, including what they eat — and what's eating them.
Toxoplasma gondii is a brain parasite that makes mice lose their instinctive fear of cats and may lead to schizophrenia in humans. Scientists think that the parasite works by inflaming the brain or by creating cysts. But it now appears that Toxoplasma is doing something far more insidious — and permanent — to the…
Pacific Rim's "Rollie Pollies" are the bug-like parasites that hang out on kaiju bodies. Visual effects house Spectral Motion posted a video showing how these critters went from concept art to scuttling in the builders' hands.
The medieval crusaders may be long gone, but some of them left behind something a bit personal. In a ruined castle in Cyprus, researchers discovered a latrine that still contained the fecal parasites of the European invaders.
Many parasites are satisfied with just living off of their hosts, while others decide their hosts must die. But there are also some parasites who can change their hosts' behavior or physiology in ways fit only for science fiction. Here are 12 parasites who manipulate their hosts in incredible ways.
There's a reason why optometrists say you should regularly replenish your contact lens solution and throw out your lenses after the expiry date. Last year, a young woman contracted an eye infection after using tap water to dilute her cleaning solution, and while wearing contact lenses that were two months past their…