Abstract: Behavior-hijacking parasites are the inspiration for many horror novels and movies. Yes, so-called “zombie-making” parasites are real! Some of them even live right here in our own backyards in Central Florida. How parasites pull off something as nifty as mind control is not very well understood, and the main research question asked by the researchers in Dr. de Bekker’s lab. To answer this question, we study the Florida carpenter ant and its manipulating fungal parasite. We integrate various omics techniques with behavioral ecology, mycology and chronobiology.
This talk will walk you through their research, the answers they are getting, the new questions that arise, and why studying the behaviors of zombie ants matters.