Arun Prakash

Insects play crucial roles in the functioning of the ecosystem, contributing to some of the most dynamic and fascinating phenomena. They serve as pollinators for many agricultural crops and vectors of many infectious diseases. Hence, the interactions of insect hosts and their pathogens are thought to evolve under very strong natural selection. The study of host-pathogen relationships is intimately associated with understanding the evolution of host defense strategies and pathogen virulence. Since pathogens can influence many of the host’s behaviors like feeding, mating, reproduction, and movement, understanding these interactions can influence disease outcome. Unravelling these associations can potentially aid in better understanding and predicting the dynamics of pathogens, especially in our changing world. My research focuses on understanding an array of hosts defense strategies ranging from resisting or tolerating infections to remembering (immune memory) and being specific (to pathogens). I use a combined approach of immunological techniques with life-history evolution to understand the intricate relations between hosts, their microbes and the environment (linking ecology, evolution, behavior and immunology). I am broadly interested in (a) immunity in the context of aging (b) immune defense strategies; resistance and/or tolerance (c) immunological memory in insects (d) chemical defense strategies (e) stress and genetics of immunity.