Strickland Memorial Lecture 2022
Celebrating 100 years of Entomology at the University of Alberta

Date: Friday, March 18, 2022
Time: 10:00 am MST
Host: Dr. Lien Luong
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The lecture will be given by:
Dr. Shelley Adamo
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
Dalhousie University

Title: How to Hijack a Brain: The parasitic manipulator Cotesia congregata and its caterpillar host Manduca sexta

Abstract: The parasitic wasp Cotesia congregata lays her eggs inside the body of her host, the caterpillar Manduca sexta. During wasp larval development, the caterpillar’s behaviour is normal. But after the wasps scrape their way through the host’s body wall to the outside, the caterpillar’s behaviour shows a dramatic change. It loses all self-motivated behaviours such as feeding and locomotion. This alteration is not due to debilitation. In fact, the host’s defensive behaviour is heightened. It now acts as a bodyguard for the cocoons of the wasp larvae as they mature into adult wasps. The wasp mother and larvae use an assortment of physiological mechanisms to control the host’s behaviour. The wasps alter neurohormonal levels, induce a cytokine storm, and use a domesticated virus to introduce novel genes into the brain of their host.