Plasmodium parasites responsible for deadly outbreaks of malaria synchronize their emergence and development with the circadian rhythms of their hosts to maximize their survival and spread.
The results, published online today (January 5) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, give clues to why circadian clocks are maintained in so many parasite species, and may hold implications for when to administer malaria treatments to infected individuals. "This study is incredibly important," said linkurl:Deborah Bell-Pedersen,;http://www.bio.tamu.edu/facmenu/faculty/Bell-PedersenD.htm a molecular biologist at Texas A&M University, who was not involved in the study. "It helps us appreciate the role of clocks in organisms, and how they provide an advantage to their growth and well-being."For years scientists have recognized the special timing of malaria infections: millions of Plasmodium parasites emerge en masse from red blood cells to cause the fever, chills, and anemia that characterize malaria. This military precision...
PlasmodiumPlasmodiumPlasmodiumA.J. O'Donnell, et al., "Fitness costs of disrupting circadian rhythms in malaria parasites," Proceedings of the Royal Society B, doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2457.
Image: Sarah Reece and Sinclair Stammers
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