From behavior to mechanisms: An integrative approach to the manipulation by a parasitic fungus (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis s.l.) of its host ants (Camponotus spp.)

Charissa De Bekker, Martha Merrow, David P. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Co-evolution of parasites and their hosts has led to certain parasites adaptively manipulating the behavior of their hosts. Although the number of examples from different taxa for this phenomenon is growing, the mechanisms underlying parasite-induced manipulation of hosts' behavior are still poorly understood. The development of laboratory infections integrating various disciplines within the life sciences is an important step in that direction. Here, we advocate for such an integrative approach using the parasitic fungi of the genus Ophiocordyceps that induce an adaptive biting behavior in Camponotus ants as an example. We emphasize the use of behavioral assays under controlled laboratory conditions, the importance of temporal aspects of the behavior (possibly involving the circadian clock), and the need to approach colonizing parasites as organizations with a division of labor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-176
Number of pages11
JournalIntegrative and comparative biology
Volume54
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Plant Science

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