Published: Aug. 21, 2020

Dr. Charissa de Bekker Dr. Charissa de Bekker
Assistant Professor, University of Central Florida

When:   August 28, 2020 at Noon
Where:  Seminar will be presented via Zoom
Title: Connecting phenomes with functional genomes in ants, manipulated by a fungal parasite

Certain ant species have co-evolved with species-specific fungal parasites of the genus Ophiocordyceps, which adaptively manipulate their hosts’ behavior. This manipulated behavior is marked by the summiting and biting behavior that infected ants display during their final hours. Transmission-promoting summiting behavior is a common manipulation induced by a range of parasites (e.g., baculoviruses, trematodes and other fungi) in various insects including dipterans, lepidopterans and ants. Which molecular mechanisms these parasites have evolved to hijack the behavior of their hosts and which affected host pathways are giving rise to altered behavioral phenotypes, remain two largely unanswered questions.

To answer these questions, we focus on Camponotus floridanus and its manipulating fungal parasite Ophiocordyceps camponoti-floridani. We approach this ant-fungus interaction model from an integrative perspective by combining comparative transcriptomics with quantitative behavioral analyses, field surveys and functional genetics assays. This work, so far, has resulted in the identification of candidate fungal compounds and ant host pathways that appear to be involved in the manipulated summiting. Our field surveys are revealing the natural history of Camponotus-Ophiocordyceps interactions in Florida, and the biotic and abiotic factors involved. Additionally, through behavioral studies, we are learning how behaviors of infected foraging ants change prior to the ultimate summiting behavior. Taken together, these integrative efforts will connect behavioral phenomes of infected and uninfected ants with the underlying genomes of ant hosts and their manipulating fungal parasites.

Everyone is welcome to attend these Zoom seminars, please see the Zoom link and information below.


Dr. Sara Branco is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Integrative Biology Seminar

Every week on Fri, until Dec 4, 2020, 15 occurrence(s)

        Aug 28, 2020 11:30 AM - Dr. Charissa de Bekker

        Sep 4, 2020 11:30 AM -  Dr. Gavin Jones

        Sep 11, 2020 11:30 AM - Simon Lailvaux

        Sep 18, 2020 11:30 AM - Dr. Jason Vogel

        Sep 25, 2020 11:30 AM - Ben Wolfe

        Oct 2, 2020 11:30 AM - Bala Chaudhary

        Oct 9, 2020 11:30 AM - Anya Brown

        Oct 16, 2020 11:30 AM - Katie Ferris

        Oct 23, 2020 11:30 AM - Jessie Uheling

        Oct 30, 2020 11:30 AM - Rachel Vannette

        Nov 6, 2020 11:30 AM - TBA

        Nov 13, 2020 11:30 AM - TBA

        Nov 20, 2020 11:30 AM - TBA

        Nov 23-39, 2020 11:30 AM - NO SEMINAR - FALL BREAK

        Dec 4, 2020 11:30 AM - Spring Behrouz

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