Biologist and R programmer. Works on biological rhythms, animal behavior, and infectious diseases.
Deborah Gordon, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Hijacking time: How Ophiocordyceps fungi could be using ant host clocks to manipulate behavior
2022; 44 (3): e12909
Ophiocordyceps fungi manipulate ant behaviour as a transmission strategy. Conspicuous changes in the daily timing of disease phenotypes suggest that Ophiocordyceps and other manipulators could be hijacking the host clock. We discuss the available data that support the notion that Ophiocordyceps fungi could be hijacking ant host clocks and consider how altering daily behavioural rhythms could benefit the fungal infection cycle. By reviewing time-course transcriptomics data for the parasite and the host, we argue that Ophiocordyceps has a light-entrainable clock that might drive daily expression of candidate manipulation genes. Moreover, ant rhythms are seemingly highly plastic and involved in behavioural division of labour, which could make them susceptible to parasite hijacking. To provisionally test whether the expression of ant behavioural plasticity and rhythmicity genes could be affected by fungal manipulation, we performed a gene co-expression network analysis on ant time-course data and linked it to available behavioural manipulation data. We found that behavioural plasticity genes reside in the same modules as those affected during fungal manipulation. These modules showed significant connectivity with rhythmic gene modules, suggesting that Ophiocordyceps could be indirectly affecting the expression of those genes as well.
View details for DOI 10.1111/pim.12909
View details for Web of Science ID 000760813400005
View details for PubMedID 35103986
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9287076