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Trends Parasitol. 2005 Sep;21(9):423-9.

Genes, odours and the recognition of parasitized individuals by rodents.

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Department of Psychology, Social Sciences Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5C2.


Social recognition, whereby animals identify and recognize other individual conspecifics, is a crucial prerequisite for a wide range of social behaviours. There are relationships among social odours (chemical signals), parasite recognition and avoidance that are associated with hormonal, neural and genomic mechanisms in rodents. Rodents use social odours to: (i) distinguish between infected and uninfected individuals; (ii) recognize specific infected individuals; and (iii) avoid and display aversive responses to infected individuals. There are genomic correlates of this parasite recognition and avoidance in which genes expressing the neuropeptide oxytocin have roles. In this article, we provide a framework ("micronet") by which the genetic, hormonal and neural interactions associated with social behaviours and recognition and avoidance of parasitized individuals can be explored.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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