The secret life of moths on the skin of our faces

The secret life of moths on the skin of our faces

The image shows the Demodex folliculorum mite on the skin under a Hirox microscope. Credit: University of Reading

The microscopic mites that live in human pores and mate on our faces at night have become simplified organisms, due to their unique lifestyles, that they will soon become one of the humans, the new research found.

tea moths pass at birth and are carried by almost everyone, with the number increasing in adults as the pores enlarge. They measure about 0.3 mm in length, appear in facial hair follicles and nipples, including the folds, and feed on sebum naturally released by cells in the pores. They become active at night and move between follicles looking for a mate.

The earliest genome sequencing study of the D. folliculorum mite found that their isolated existence and resulting inbreeding caused them to release unnecessary genes and cells and lead to migration from the outside. parasites internally symbols.

Dr. Alejandra Perotti, Associate Professor of Invertebrate Biology at the University of Reading, who co-led the research, said, “We found that these mites have a different arrangement of genes in the body part to other similar ones. species because of their adaptation to a latent life. within the pores. These changes in their DNA have resulted in some unique body parts and characteristics. “






Demodex folliculorum mite under the walking microscope. Credit: University of Reading

An in -depth study of Demodex folliculorum DNA revealed:

  • Due to their remote existence, no exposure to external threats, no competition in the influx of hosts and no encounters with other mites with different genes, genetic reduction makes them extremely simple. organisms with small legs powered by 3 single-cell muscles. They live with the smallest repertoire of proteins — the lowest numbers ever seen in it and in related species.
  • This gene depletion is the reason for their nocturnal behavior as well. Mites lack UV protection and have lost the gene that causes animals to wake up in the sun. Nor do they produce melatonin — a compound that activates small invertebrates at night — yet, they are able to ignite their all-night mating sessions using melatonin stored in human skin in the dark.
  • Their unique gene arrangement also results in the unique hiring habits of moths. Their reproductive organs move forward, and males have a penis that grows upward from the front of their body meaning they have to place themselves under the female when mating, and copulate while they both held the man’s hair.
  • One of their genes is reversed, giving them a particular arrangement of oral connections that are specifically developed for storage and feeding. It helped them survive at a young age.
  • Mites have more cells at a young age compared to their adult stage. This contradicts the previous assumption that parasitic animals decrease their cell numbers in early development. Researchers argue that this is the first step toward mites becoming symbols.
  • The lack of exposure of potential mates to add new genes to their offspring could put mites on the path for an evolutionary dead end, and potential extinction. This has been observed in bacteria that have lived inside the cells in the past, but not in the animal.
  • Some researchers believe that mites do not have an anus and therefore must accumulate all of their waste throughout their lives before releasing it when they die, which causes skin inflammation. The new study, however, proves that they have uses and are therefore unfairly blamed on many skin conditions.
  • The secret life of moths on the skin of our faces

    The image shows the unique position of the genitals of a Demodex folliculorum mite. Credit: University of Reading

  • The secret life of moths on the skin of our faces

    Microscope image of the posterior tip of the anus of a Demodex folliculorum mite. The presence of an anus in this mite has been mistaken for some in the past, but this study confirms its presence. Credit: University of Reading

The research was led by Bangor University and the University of Reading, in collaboration with the University of Valencia, the University of Vienna and the National University of San Juan. It was published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Dr. Henk Braig, co-lead author from Bangor University and National University of San Juan, said, “Mites are blamed for many things., For example, for keeping the pores of our face unplugged.”


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More information:
Gilbert Smith et al, Human follicular mites: Ectoparasites become symbionts, Molecular Biology and Evolution (2022). DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msac125

quotation: The secret life of mites on the skin of our faces (2022, June 21) retrieved 22 June 2022 from

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