Behavior Manipulating Fungi

Our research centers around the manipulated behaviour exhibited by ants that are infected with fungal species of the genus Ophiocordyceps; the so-called "zombie ants". We use this fungus-insect interaction as a model system to study the fungal natural products involved in host manipulation and their effects on insect behavioural pathways. The overarching aim of this work is to elucidate how parasites can affect the behaviour of their hosts, how behaviour is regulated and dysregulated at the molecular level, and what neuroactive compounds are involved. This work will lead to the discovery of novel bioactive compounds that can be used in more sustainable pest control approaches or have medical applications. To answer our research questions, we use an integrative approach that combines multi-omics techniques, molecular microbiology techniques, infection biology, chronobiology, and animal behaviour.

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