Adult specimen of Dicrocoelium dendriticum. (Credit: Dr. Guilherme Verocai, Director, Parasitology Diagnostic Laboratory, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Texas A&M University.)

Collaborative Texas A&M Study Ties Kin Selection to Host-Manipulating Behavior in Parasites

Mar 10, 2020
"Theory indicates that a truly self-sacrificing behavior — altruism — cannot evolve by natural selection because the actor dies and cannot pass on the genetic variant(s) underlying the behavior. However, if the recipients of the actor's altruistic behavior are related to the actor, then the trait can evolve, or increase in frequency, because the actor shares its genes with its relatives. This is the premise of kin selection, or the evolution of traits that benefit one's relatives. We found the brain fluke has clonemates in the abdomen, so even though the brain fluke does not transmit to the next host, its clonemates, which are akin to twins because they share 100% of their genetic information, do."
Dr. Charles D. Criscione, Texas A&M biologist