Quirks & Quarks

Crickets Respond to Viral Aphrodisiac

A virus that infects and sterilizes crickets also stimulates sexual desire in males, so as to enable the virus' retransmission....

A virus that infects and sterilizes crickets also stimulates sexual desire in males, so as to enable the virus' retransmission.

Most animals, including humans, have a built-in response to becoming ill -sometimes referred to as sickness behaviour. This explains loss of appetite and listlessness, for example. But a population of laboratory crickets, recently infected with a sexually-transmitted virus, showed no sign of being ill - despite the fact that some internal organs were severely damaged. Dr. Shelley Adamo, a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, and Department of Biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, observed that the male crickets, in particular, actually increased their mating behaviour, despite the fact that the virus made them sterile. It is believed the parasitic virus, in effect, hijacks the host cricket without killing it. In this way, the parasite is able to thrive.

Related Links

  • Paper in The Journal of Experimental Biology
  • Dalhousie University release
  • Not Exactly Rocket Science blog
  • The Society For Integrative & Comparative Biology news

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