Encyclopedia of Parasitology

Living Edition
| Editors: Heinz Mehlhorn


  • Heinz Mehlhorn
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27769-6_2314-2

General Information


Greek: parasitos: men sitting at King’s table tasting food in order to find out whether poison is in. Later the term was transferred to people/animals which live on other than own costs.

An animal that lives completely at the expense of plants, animals, or humans is defined as parasite. Some authors also consider viruses, bacteria, and fungi as parasites.

Parasites have to solve several main problems in order to survive in the “struggle for life”:
  • They must develop successful strategies for host finding.

  • They must find methods for attachment and/or for partial or total penetration into their prospective hosts (Host Cell Invasion).

  • They must become able to feed on their host’s tissues or fluids and must be able to metabolize the nutrients obtained (Metabolism).

  • They must develop mechanisms to protect themselves from the attacks of the host’s defense systems, e.g., mechanisms for immune evasion (Immune Responses).

  • Last but not least, parasites have to establish a...


Immune Response Host Cell Cell Invasion Defense System General Information 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Zoomorphologie, Zellbiologie und ParasitologieHeinrich-Heine-UniversitätDüsseldorfGermany