Project

Zombie fly physics - fungal cannons as pathogen dispersal mechanism in insect pandemics

Publisher

Supervisor

Location

Greater Copenhagen area

Supervisor: Kaare H. Jensen and Jolet de Ruiter, DTU Physics (Group website: http://www.jensen-research.com/)

Co-supervisor: Henrik Hjarvard de Fine Licht, University of Copenhagen (https://sites.google.com/site/henrikdefinelicht/)

Houseflies are threatened by outbreaks of a fatal disease that leaves them as zombies, spreading the disease throughout the population by controlling their behavior. The cause of the disease is a pathogenic fungus, Entomophthora muscae, whose vegetative part grows throughout the fly’s body. When it reaches the brain and central nervous system the fungus takes full control of the fly’s behavior. The fly crawls to a high position, anchors itself to the surface with his tubular mouth, moves up its wings to allow easy dispersal of the fungus – and then dies. The fungus forms small stalks (conidiophores) that protrude through the soft parts of the fly’s body, and on each of them grows a nearly-spherical spore (conidium; typically 20-30 micron in diameter). This can be observed as yellowish rings on the fly. The conidia are then forcibly discharged from the conidiophores, forming fungal artillery that is aimed at infecting other houseflies.

The main research goal of this project is to study the mechanism and dynamics of this spore artillery. Fungi have developed active methods to discharge spores often based on condensation, absorption or evaporation of water. Although humidity is clearly a mutual factor, a wide variety of mechanisms has been observed, reflecting the wide variety of spore-carrying structures of fungi. Two well-known examples are the “fluid pressure catapult” where one or more spores are forced out of a small bag containing fluid; or the “momentum catapult”  where a single spore is released from a stalk after a small, condensed droplet spreads over the spore, releasing surface energy. For E. muscae the spore structure is different, and the discharge mechanism yet unknown. It happens at extremely fast time scales (below a millisecond) so we need a high-speed camera to study the mechanism. We will work with lab-cultivated E. muscae, as well as a related fungal species that can grow in-vitro. For these cultures we collaborate with Prof. Henrik de Fine Licht and his Evolutionary Insect Pathology group at the University of Copenhagen. They will study the biological and genetic factors that play a role in the spore discharge mechanism. Here at DTU you will study the physics of the spore artillery: the spore dynamics and unraveling the discharge mechanism.

Examples of research tasks using high-speed videography and modeling:

1.     Visualize spore trajectories to deduce the ejection velocity from the deceleration of the spore due to drag.

2.     Study the spore discharge mechanism. You will identify the role of humidity: is spore discharge rate and/or velocity enhanced for low or high humidity (i.e. an evaporation- or absorption-based scenario)? Another research angles is to study re-location of fluid and conidiophore material. Can we observe the location of rupture of the stalk? Are fluid and/or conidiophore fragments ejected with the spore? How does the spore spread out after landing?

3.     Develop a model of the spore discharge mechanism based on the pressure build-up (positive or negative), and the geometry and material properties of the spore and stalk.


In collaboration with

Assistant Prof. Henrik Hjarvard de Fine Licht, University of Copenhagen

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Contact

Company / Organization

DTU Fysik

Name

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Position

Lektor

Mail

khjensen@fysik.dtu.dk

Supervisor info

Bachelor in General Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

BSc in Biomedical Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

BSc in Biotechnology

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

BSc in Chemistry and Technology

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

BSc in Civil Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

BSc in Earth and Space Physics and Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

BSc in Electrical Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

BSc in Environmental Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

BSc in Human Life Science Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

BSc in Mathematics and Technology

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

BSc in Mechanical Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

BSc in Physics and Nanotechnology

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

BSc in Quantitative biology and disease modelling

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc Eng in Applied Chemistry

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc Eng in Quantitative Biology and Disease Modelling

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Aquatic Science and Technology

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Architectural Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Biomedical Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Biotechnology

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Civil Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Computer Science and Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Design & Innovation

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Digital Media Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

Msc in Earth and Space Physics and Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Electrical Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Engineering Acoustics

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Engineering, Mechanical Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Engineering, Photonics Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Environmental Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Food Technology

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Industrial Engineering and Management

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Materials and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Mathematical Modelling and Computation

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Petroleum Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Pharmaceutical Design and Engineering

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Physics and Nanotechnology

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Sustainable Energy

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Telecommunication

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Transportation and Logistics

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

MSc in Wind Energy

Supervisor

Kaare Hartvig Jensen

Co-supervisors

Jolet de Ruiter

Type

Final project, BSc project, Course project, MSc thesis, Course-related projects, Special course

Technical University of Denmark

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