Parasites and Their Social Hosts

Trends Parasitol. 2017 Jun;33(6):453-462. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2017 Feb 4.


The study of parasitism in socially living organisms shows that social group size correlates with the risk of infection, but group structure - and thus differences in contact networks - is generally more important. Also, genetic makeup or environmental conditions have effects. 'Social immunity' focuses on defence against parasites that are particular to social living. Recently, the role of socially transmitted microbiota for defence has become a focus, too. But whether and how parasites adapt to social organisms - beyond adaptation to solitary hosts - is poorly understood. Genomic and proteomic methods, as well as network analysis, will be tools that hold promise for many unsolved questions, but to expand our concepts in the first place is a much needed agenda.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Environment
  • Genome / immunology
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / immunology
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / physiology*
  • Immunity, Herd
  • Parasites / immunology*
  • Proteome / immunology


  • Proteome