Research Areas

Hormonal regulation of development and innate behaviors; isolation, characterization and physiological actions of arthropod venom toxins.

The Adams Lab

We examine the molecular physiology of innate animal behaviors known as "fixed action patterns." Our focus is on ecdysis, a fixed action pattern performed by insects each time the old cuticle is shed. Neural signaling pathways underlying ecdysis behaviors arise de novo during each developmental stage following new gene expression under the control of steroid and peptide hormones. Our objective is to explain how behaviors are constructed through coordinated expression, and how they are released through hormonal and neurotransmitter signaling pathways in the brain. A second research area focuses on the biological chemistry of host-parasitoid interactions.

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Life Cycle of the Jewel Wasp, Ampulex compressa

Upon encountering a cockroach, the wasp attacks swiftly, stinging the cockroach twice: first into the prothoracic ganglion followed by a second precise sting into cephalic ganglia: subesophageal ganglion and brain.

Video by Victor Landa


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