Junkies, in INFECTED, do you remember Perry flipping out about the parasitical wasp larvae that eat host caterpillars from the inside out? Well here's a fascinating story about how the wasps get that done. To make it work, the wasp has to stop the caterpillar from turning into a butterfly or a moth, and stop the caterpillar's immune system from attacking the parasitic larvae. This is done with chemicals that stop both processes, but here's the catch: the wasps inject genetic material into the caterpillar, this material bonds with the caterpillar, and similar to a virus, the caterpillar's natural processes actually make the chemical that allows the parasitical larvae to kill them!
This is some fucked-up biological Tom-foolery right here. Read the beginning of the article below, click on the link at the bottom to see the whole thing.
Ancient virus gave wasps power over caterpillar DNA
A historical viral infection gave some insects genes that allow them to parasitise their caterpillar hosts, a new study finds.
Many species of wasps lay their eggs inside caterpillars. To make this possible, the wasps' have a secret weapon in the form of a dose of virus-like particles that are injected along with the eggs.
Not only do these disable the caterpillars' immune system to stop it attacking the eggs, they also cause paralysis and keep the host from pupating - turning the caterpillar into an eternally youthful larder and nursery for the wasp grubs.
A closer look at these particles reveals that, although they look like viruses, they contain genetic material from the wasp, which is transcribed into the caterpillars' DNA - causing production of the very toxins that bring about their downfall.