Mites that mate on our faces at night face extinction threat

Study of tiny parasites points to gene loss from adaptation putting them on dead-end evolutionary course

Gliding through grease, and protected by our pores, tiny Demodex folliculorum mites lead a secretive life within our skin, only emerging at night to mate on our foreheads, noses and nipples. Successful as these sexual encounters are, their days as independent parasites may be numbered.

The first ever genome sequencing study of these mites appears to have caught them in the process of transitioning to internal symbionts, entirely dependent on us for their existence. Eventually, this process may even lead to their extinction.

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