Survival of the Sickest: Part 3 (Chapters 5-6)

What did you think about the reading?:

        Very interesting as always! Although at some points throughout the chapters, it did get a bit slow. I liked the way chapter five started with the Guinea worm so that it opened up to the topic of host manipulation. And just the title of chapter six got me excited because I’ve always been very interested in genetics (despite the fact that I don’t always truly understand it). I think two sentences that sum up these two paragraphs are: one species’ advantage may be another species’ disadvantage and that partnership with viruses may have helped us evolve into complex organisms much faster than we would have on our own.

 What did you learn?:

        First, I learned about many host manipulations, such as the very weird process of the Guinea Worm! It grows inside of your intestines to then burn your skin to get out to ultimately give birth in the wound to repeat the process again. It’s quite disturbing. I also learned that our genes actually change in response to the weather and the environment; I just thought we accustomed to it, didn’t think our genes played a role in it! I also learned that there are “good” microbes living inside of us, one hundred times more plentiful than any genetic material. Most of the microbes are found in the digestive system, where they play crucial roles such as: creating energy, training our immune systems, stimulating cell growth, and protecting us against harmful bacteria. Our relationship with intestinal bacteria is symbiotic, both organisms are benefitted. It was also interesting to learn that penicillin was accidently discovered and that the staph bacteria evolved to become resistant to its affects. In the next chapter I learned that the first vaccine actually came from cows! Also, a third of our DNA actually comes from viruses because our evolution is probably shaped by the integration of viruses and bacteria. It’s incredible to think that a huge percentage of human DNA is related to viruses, when in fact most people think that all types of viruses are bad for them! Chapter six basically taught me that if I want to evolve, I have to be open to being parasitized.

What questions do you have?:

        I do have one question: why does T. gondii only sexually reproduce in cats? But other than that, all of my other questions were answered as I kept reading.

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