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Microbial Sciences Initiative Chalk Talk: Carolyn Elya

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Friday, December 1, 2023 8:30am to 9:30am

Blackboard with MSI Chalk Talk title and writing about the thriving microbial sciences community at Harvard

Event Dates

Friday, December 1, 2023 8:30am to 9:30am

24 Oxford Street Room 375, Classroom 375 View map

24 Oxford Street Cambridge MA 02138

https://msi.harvard.edu/chalk-talks #MSIChalkTalk
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This week's speaker is Carolyn Elya: The last of (fung)us: Mechanisms of fruit fly behavior manipulation by the fungal pathogen Entomophthora muscae

Many parasites are known to manipulate the behavior of their animal hosts, but how this occurs remains poorly understood. Recently, I discovered a strain of the mind-controlling pathogen Entomophthora muscae in wild fruit flies and developed robust methods to culture the fungus in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. Before sunset on their final day of life, infected flies perform the “zombie” behaviors characteristic of E. muscae infection: they climb to a high location (a behavior known as “summiting”), extend their proboscises, and raise their wings in a pose that facilitates spore dispersal. Using a combination of approaches that range from behavioral neuroscience to molecular biology, I have established a mechanistic model of summiting behavior in zombie flies. Work in my lab will span multiple disciplines as we identify the fungal inputs to the fly summiting pathway as well as reveal the genetic and circuit underpinnings of additional zombie behaviors driven by E. muscae.

Chalk Talks are open to the entire MSI community, including both Harvard affiliates and the general public. Pre-registration is not required for attendance. Hot beverages, pastries, and other light breakfast fare will be provided.

The micro-centric research community at Harvard is thriving!

Event Details