BIOBROKERS IN PARASITE-HOST INTERACTIONS
Donald A. Windsor
Donald A. Windsor
I hypothesize that other species may be involved in parasite-host interactions.
In my previous post #17, I speculated that probiotics may be involved. But after further research revealed that the terms “probiotic” and “contrabiotic” are already in widespread use, so I will not use them.
Instead I will use the term “biobroker”. A broker facilitates transactions between sellers and buyers. A biobroker facilitates interactions between parasites and hosts. Biobrokers are probably microorganisms, but could be any other organisms, including other parasites.
Just as a financial transaction can occur without a broker, a parasite can infect/infest a host without a biobroker. However, some transactions are much smoother with a broker, because the broker may be able to work out a good deal for both participants.
Parasites must convince hosts to accept them. It seems that this convincing is usually of the “offer they cannot refuse” type of bullying. Parasites are usually host specific, showing that most other possible hosts are not convinced to accept the parasite and meet such overtures with rejection.
Evolution is all about evading extinction. Parasites may benefit their hosts, at the species level, by helping them survive. When a host species survives, its parasite species stand a better chance at surviving.
When a host species goes extinct, its parasite species will also go extinct, unless it is already in other species of hosts. A parasite species that has only one host species will survive its host species extinction only if it can find another species of host.
Here is where biobrokers can save the parasite species, by helping find new host species.
Parasites carrying the appropriate bacteria would be more successful infecting hosts compared to parasites without these bacteria. These bacteria would be probiotic for the parasites and contrabiotic for their hosts. Likewise, if the hosts were harboring bacteria that would thwart the parasites, those bacteria would be probiotic for the hosts and contrabiotic for the parasites. Biobrokers are both probiotic and contrabiotic and all gradations in between.
Right now, this hypothesis is pure speculation. I am looking for some real-world examples.