Saturday, January 18, 2014

On The Origin of Propaganda - 2

It is not just for the human species
In the first post of this series we considered some of the ways of deception and propaganda.

Specifically we looked at cases where microbes and other creatures exhibit deceptive behaviors.

Since then, one journal has gone all out by dedicating an entire edition to the subject of those types of microbial manipulations.

On the other hand, there is also a recent paper which shows communicative examples where some microbes issue factual or accurate signals in communication with other species to help other species to navigate to a suitable location where metamorphosis can be initiated (Settlement Signal).

An entire edition of one journal, for an example of primitive propaganda, concerns how some parasitic species can develop processes for the manipulation of the brains of their host species:
The ability of parasites to alter the behaviour of their hosts fascinates both scientists and non-scientists alike. One reason that this topic resonates with so many is that it touches on core philosophical issues such as the existence of free will. If the mind is merely a machine, then it can be controlled by any entity that understands the code and has access to the machinery. This special issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology highlights some of the best-understood examples of parasite-induced changes in host brain and behaviour, encompassing both invertebrate and vertebrate hosts and micro- and macro-parasites. The observation that parasitic infection can modify specific host behaviours is an old one (see Moore, 2002). The general consensus has been that these parasites have evolved the ability to manipulate host behaviour in order to advance their own reproductive success (Moore, 2002). Unfortunately, there has been a lack of information on two key points of this hypothesis. Firstly, it has proved difficult to unequivocally demonstrate that changes in host behaviour benefit the parasite (i.e. enhance parasitic fitness). Secondly, the mechanisms that parasites use to change host behaviour were completely unknown for many years, particularly in the case of vertebrate host systems.
(Neural Parasitology). Regular readers will remember that in other Ecocosmology Blog posts we have looked at how that pathogenic behavior can and has been changed whereby the pathogenic and/or parasitic behavior can become mutualistic once again to benefit both host and symbiont (Microbial Languages: Rehabilitation of the Unseen--2).

This concept of wanting to understand interspecies and intra-species communication for better or worse is a long and winding road:
Many parasite taxa are able to alter a wide range of phenotypic traits of their hosts in ways that seem to improve the parasite’s chance of completing its life cycle. Host behavioural alterations are classically seen as compelling illustrations of the ‘extended phenotype’ concept, which suggests that parasite genes have phenotype effects on the host. The molecular mechanisms and the host–parasite cross-talk involved during the manipulative process of a host by its parasite are still poorly understood. In this Review, the current knowledge on proximate mechanisms related to the ‘parasite manipulation hypothesis’ is presented. Parasite genome sequences do not themselves provide a full explanation of parasite biology nor of the molecular cross-talk involved in host–parasite associations. Recently, first-generation proteomics tools have been employed to unravel some aspects of the parasite manipulation process (i.e. proximate mechanisms and evolutionary convergence) using certain model arthropod-host–parasite associations. The pioneer proteomics results obtained on the manipulative process are here highlighted, along with the many gaps in our knowledge.
(Host–parasite Molecular Cross-talk). Signaling and messaging is common within, between, and among species, and that cross-talk is composed of both propaganda messaging and truthful messaging.

It would seem that our approach to other species sends them a scary message which may affect their behaviors (Are Microbes The Origin of PTSD?).

We attack small and large life on Earth incessantly with pollution, antibiotics, and just about anything else we can throw at them (On The Memorial Daze, Mammals May Be Nearly Half Way Toward Mass Extinction).

In the sense that we live off the bounty of the Earth, yet are destroying it, we are a parasitic species.

But like those pathogens and parasites that have changed their behaviors into benefiting others, we can and must do so as well (Change Is Not An Option - It Is A Must).

The previous post in this series is here

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