UCL Division of Biosciences


GEE Seminar - Professor Simon "Sam" Elliot, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil

07 February 2024, 12:00 pm–1:00 pm

Title: 'Fungal enemies of insects: Agricultural applications and Biodiversity through to Zombies'

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni




Amy Godfrey


G46, H O Schild Pharmacology Lecture Theatre
Medical Sciences and Anatomy Building

Academic Host: David Murrell
Abstract: Fungi associated with insects can be valuable models for the study of host-parasite interactions and are themselves of importance in natural and agricultural ecosystems. I will briefly present some biological aspects of these fungi, in particular their evolutionary history of switching between insects, other fungi and plants as hosts, plus the “zombie” fungi that manipulate host behaviour. I will go into how insects, especially those that live in groups or are social, defend themselves against parasites. Finally I will show some current perspectives regarding fungal biodiversity in the tropics, the development of a model system to study coinfections and the use of these fungi as providers of ecosystem services and as biocontrol agents. The latter is of particular importance at present as Brazil is leading the way in the adoption of biological alternatives to pesticides in large-scale agriculture.

About the Speaker

Professor Simon "Sam" Elliot

at Universidade Federal de Viçosa

I am originally from the UK (BSc Southampton, MSc Bristol, PhD Imperial), having worked at EMBRAPA (Brazil) and the Universities of Amsterdam and Gloucestershire. I have been at Universidade Federal de Viçosa since 2006. This sits in one of the most threatened biomes, the Atlantic Forest, in a fragmented landscape with coffee and dairy production. We have the largest entomology programme in the Americas and I ran this for eight years. I am now completing a sabbatical at CBER, hosted by David Murrell and Seirian Sumner. This has given me the opportunity to explore some new directions for my research, some of  which I hope to be able to outline here.

More about Professor Simon "Sam" Elliot