Parasites in the Nest

Parasites in the Nest

Alice Lydia Herneisen

Whitehead Institute

The pathogen Toxoplasma gondii is an infamous parasite that infects a quarter of the global population. Key to its success is the ability to infect nearly any time of cell in our bodies. Once inside our cells, the parasites replicate in a relatively protected environment. Upon certain environmental cues, the parasites may grow dormant and establish a lifelong infection or alternatively, rupture their sanctuary cell and go on to infect its neighbors. The two images shown here capture the beginning of an infection, when parasites have yet to invade a layer of cells; and the end, as a single host cell bloated with parasites extends helplessly into an eerily empty scene of battle.

elongated compartments of blue nuclei surrounded by purplish grey fibers lie in diagonal stripes

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