By C. R.
Almost every person on Earth has thousands of mites on their face, eyelashes and even nipples, which have eight legs, feed on skin cells, and even mate on your face. They are especially active at night. The Sun reports that scientists are finally unraveling their genetic secrets.
In a new study, researchers at the University of Reading have explained how they have managed to sequence the genome of the skin mite Demodex folliculorum, also known as the skin mite, for the first time. The microscopic animals are thought to be so dependent on their hosts that they may “blend in” with humans. They also confirmed that these creatures have anuses and that thousands of them can live on a single human. These mites, which are transmitted at birth, are almost impossible to get rid of.
They live in our pores, feed on natural skin oils, and mate on our skin. They then lay new mite eggs in our pores. As scary as all this may sound, there’s no need to worry too much, as these mites are more or less harmless.
A study of the genome of these animals has shown that their isolated existence and subsequent hybridisation modify their DNA. They also get rid of redundant genes and cells and change from external parasites to “symbionts”, which means that they may soon actually become “one with humans”.
Dr. Alejandra Perotti, a biologist at the University of Reading, was also involved in the research and explains: “We found that these mites have a different gene distribution to other similar species, as they have adapted to living protected lives in pores…These changes in their DNA have resulted in some unusual physical characteristics and behaviours.” One of the unusual activities of mites is to crawl out at night, as they have lost genes that provide UV protection and cause the organisms to wake up in daylight.
Unique DNA has also contributed to the males having an upward-pointing penis, which forces them to position themselves under the female while both cling to human hair.
The research, published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, also debunks the long-held myth that face mites do not have anuses, but instead accumulate excrement and release it when they die, causing inflammation of the skin. But a new study has confirmed that face mites do have anuses and have been wrongly blamed for many skin diseases.