Many thanks to the organizers of the annual Society for Experimental Biology conference for putting together another amazing meeting in Seville, Spain. It was great to catch up with old friends, hear about all of the amazing new science that they are doing, and present some of my brand new research looking at the connections linking energy metabolism, brain serotonergic signaling, and parasite infection/exposure history. I can´t wait for Prague 2020! If you are working on parasites, disease, or immunity, please consider joining us at the 2020 SEB meeting where we are organizing a session titled "Parasites, disease and host immunity: Towards a mechanistic understanding of infection-induced phenotypes".
I had a wonderful time this week visiting the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) at the University of Miami, and the Marine Sciences Program at Florida International University. Everyone was really welcoming and I had a great time geeking out on everyone´s cutting edge science as well as presenting my own work. Many thanks to my hosts Prof Nikki Traylor-Knowles (RSMAS) and Prof Alastair Harborne (FIU). Also, thanks to Javier del Campo for snapping this photo of me during my talk at RSMAS!
Many thanks to Shaun Killen for coming to Oslo for a productive visit full of paper writing/idea generating and one awesome talk at the University of Oslo on social behavior. I first met Shaun almost 10 years ago as a Masters student at the University of Glasgow. It´s great to still be working together all of these years later!
My first round of brain parts are finished running through the HPLC! Yippee! This work will allow us to better understand how infection with a brain infecting microsporidian parasite alters neurotransmitter activity, particularly the monoamines dopamine and serotonin.
I am having a awesome time at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology annual meeting in Tampa, Florida. In addition to loving getting in some warmth and sunshine in the middle of Norwegian winter, I got some great feedback on my study looking at the costs of infection in Euha final hosts and have met some fantastic scientists that study similar systems and processes. What a great way to kick off 2019!
I am excited to have completed my first experiment of my postdoc here in Norway, working on a new host-parasite system: the zebrafish and its brain-infecting parasite Pseudoloma neurophilia. There is still so much that we don´t know about these nasty microsporidians and how they impact the physiology and behavior of their hosts. Through this study, we will learn about how the parasite alters their hosts metabolism, following acute and long term infection. We will then link this data to each individual´s neurochemistry in their brain (looking particularly at dopamine and serotonin). There is still a fair bit of post-experiment tissue and data analyses to do but we are looking forward to the results!
My new article in the Outside JEB section of the Journal of Experimental Biology is out this week. In it, I describe the role of serotonin in octopus sociality, based on the Current Biology publication from Eric Edsinger and Gul Dolen. Their study, in addition to elucidating a previously unknown conserved mechanism for sociality across evolutionary history, has amazing hidden gems in their methodology, including the use of ecstasy (to boost the octopus´serotonin) and Star Wars figurines (to give their study subjects an alternative mate to their own species). Check out my article here and the publication here.