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What could be cooler than a parasite? How about a parasite of a parasite? That’s right, HYPERPARASITISM!

Below is a picture of a parasitic copepod. The copepod’s head is to the lower right, and its two eggs sacks and tail extend into the upper left corner of the image. This parasite was found on the gills and in the mouth of a horn shark caught off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Armand Kuris‘ parasitology course found these while doing dissections for the lab part of the course.

These parasitic copepods have parasites of their own. Monogenean parasites of the genus Udonella latch onto the copepods, and make themselves at home. In the image below you can see an adult Udonella, as well as a bunch of eggs (one has been circled) that Udonella has laid on its host.

It’s a rough world out there!

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ’em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.

-Jonathan Swift

5 Responses to “HYPERparasitism!”

  1. Tweets that mention HYPERparasitism! | Weinersmith -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by sciseekfeed, Kelly Weinersmith. Kelly Weinersmith said: HYPERPARASITES of sharks: http://www.weinersmith.com/?p=345 […]

  2. Jodell (Linder) Jackson

    Hi! I use to go to UCSB and have actually taken Armand’s class! Are you working in his lab now? I graduate from UCSB a while back (2004) and got my PhD in population genetics from UGA, but have never given up my love of parasites 🙂 While I was at SB I worked on sexual conflict in fruit flies with Bill Rice, have you met him yet? That stuff is cool. I got into studying immunity and sexual conflict that way. Have fun in SB! Totally miss that place. Great blog!

    • weinersmith

      Hey!! Yes, I am working in Armand’s lab currently. I’m a UC Davis PhD student, but am a visiting researcher in his lab for about 1 year. I’ve been to one of Bill Rice’s seminars, and think he does REALLY cool work. Unfortunately, I haven’t met him yet. I hope to soon though! What are you working on now?

      • Jodell

        That is so funny! What a small world (at least in science). I’m doing a post doc at Stanford and working on male mating success while infected with bacteria (in flies still). For my Phd I worked on immune challenge and maternal effect and how it alters quality/quantity of offspring but now am looking at male-male competition and infection. I’m in a microbio department which is hard coming from an Eco/Evo background, but it is neat to see how the ‘other side’ looks at science and what not. My funding is up in June so not sure where I’ll be next, but hopefully I’ll swing back more Eco/Evo. Ever been to the Evolution Conferences? Maybe we’ve already met! Haha!

        • weinersmith

          Awesome! Your work sounds really interesting! I think that it would be a ton of fun to hang out in a microbiology department for awhile. It’s good to learn new skills and talk to new people!

          I haven’t been to the Evolution Conferences, but hope to soon! So far I’ve stuck with the Animal Behavior Society and Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology conferences, but am hoping to go a bit broader next year. I hope we cross paths in the real world soon! 🙂

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