2019-02-15 - 2021-06-30 | Research area: EvoDevo
Ant colonies can harbor a large number of diverse parasites and pathogens, many of which are known to induce phenotypic changes in their hosts. Although hitherto largely overlooked in the context of ecological evolutionary developmental biology, the study of parasitogenic morphologies can shed light on mechanisms and pathways relevant to the ontogenetic development of the host, their plasticity or robustness under environmental perturbations, as well as evolutionary and ecological consequences for the host. Within a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at the KLI, I plan to assess the current body of scientific literature regarding parasite-induced morphological changes in ants. I aim to compile and publish a review article on parasite-induced morphological aberrations in the family Formicidae, within which I will compare previously described host-parasite systems and assess commonalities and differences of different parasitogenic phenotypes and their underlying developmental mechanisms. I will interpret my findings in light of current theories, especially from the field of (eco)-evo-devo, and identify systems suitable for further study. This will lay the groundwork for an international, interdisciplinary project researching host-parasite interactions and parasitogenic phenotypes in ants.