The languages of parasite communication

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Although it is regarded as self-evident that parasites interact with their hosts, with the primary aim of enhancing their own survival and transmission, the extent to which unicellular parasites communicate with each has been severely underestimated. Recent publications show that information is commonly exchanged between parasites of the same species and that this can govern their decisions to divide, to differentiate or to migrate as a group. Communication can take the form of soluble secreted factors, extracellular vesicles or contact between cells. Extracellular parasites can do this directly, while intracellular parasites use the infected host cell – or components derived from it – as an intermediary. By emitting signals that can be dispersed within the host, parasites can also have long-distance effects on the course of an infection and its pathology. This article presents an overview of recent developments in this field and draws attention to some older work that merits re-examination.




Roditi, I. (2016). The languages of parasite communication. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 208(1), 16–22.

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