David Hughes' lecture at NJIT

Written by Simon Garnier on March 28, 2016

David Hughes from Penn State will be our guest Tuesday, March 29. His lab has a fascinating research program, exploring the relationship between disease and behavior. In particular, their work focuses on understanding how and why parasites manipulate their host behavior, and on the role behavior plays in disease transmission.

During his visit, David will also deliver a lecture as part of the weekly colloquium series of the Federated Department of Biology at NJIT and Rutgers-Newark. See below for the details on David’s talk and a video introducing the theme of his lecture.

Title: Zombie ants: the precise manipulation of animal behavior by a microbe

When: Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 1:00 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.

Where: NJIT, CENTRAL KING BUILDING, Room 303 (map available here)

Abstract: One of the most complex examples of parasite control of animal behavior is that of fungi in the genus Ophiocordyceps controlling ant behavior. In the moments before death the fungus controls the ant to bite into plant tissue providing the parasite a platform to launch spores from the cadaver of the host it will soon kill. In this talk I will discuss our research on this phenomena, examining ultimate and proximate views of why and how animal behavior is controlled by a microbe. We work from the micron scale as fungi surround and invade ant muscles to the continental scale as fungi evolve in to control ants in the context of past climatic change.

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