A recent study found that genetic alterations in parasitic mites that live and reproduce on human faces can be harmful to the host. According to a study published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, these 0.3 millimeter-long organisms are likely at risk of extinction due to inbreeding and gene loss.
The study focused on Demodex folliculorum, a microscopic parasitic mite that can be found on eyebrows, eyelashes or near the nose. Demodex brevis, the other recognized type of facial mite, was not examined in the study.
According to estimates from previous studies, these mites could be carried by 50 to 100% of individuals. They are common, although nothing is known about them. For example, scientists are unsure of their evolutionary history or why they are nocturnal. By collecting and examining DNA from Demodex folliculorum, Braig and his associates hoped to fill this information gap.
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Alejandra Perotti, associate professor of invertebrate biology at the University of Reading and co-lead on the study, said in a statement that these parasites have evolved to live in the safety of skin pores.
This comes at a price: DNA mutations that caused the strange physical traits and behaviors have been documented by researchers.
The results demonstrated that the species has become incredibly basic. The researchers noted that they need the least amount of protein from any closely related species to thrive. They pointed out that inbreeding does not lead to the introduction of additional genes.
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