Todd Schlenke

Associate Professor, Entomology

Positions and Education: 

  • Associate Professor, Entomology, University of Arizona, 2016-present
  • Visiting Associate Professor, Biology, Reed College, 2013-2016
  • Assistant Professor, Biology, Emory University, 2006-2013
  • Postdoc, Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, 2002-2005
  • Postdoc, Population Biology, UC Davis, 2001-2002
  • PhD, Zoology, UT Austin, 1996-2001
  • BS, Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley, 1991-1995

Research Interests: 

My research interests are rooted in evolutionary biology but span multiple disciplines in biology. At the heart of my research program is the use of fruit flies in the genus Drosophila to understand the evolutionary genetics of host-parasite interactions. For example, we have developed several species of endoparasitoid wasps, which are readily observed infecting Drosophila in nature and can be very specialized to particular host species, as model parasites. These wasps lay single eggs in Drosophila larvae and, once hatched, consume flies from the inside out. Flies mount cellular and behavioral defense responses against wasps, but wasps have adaptations for finding host fly larvae, suppressing host cellular immunity, and manipulating host behavior. I use a variety of "omics" tools to understand the molecular genetics of fly cellular immunity and wasp virulence, as well as patterns of host immunity and pathogen virulence coevolution across fly and wasp phylogenies. I am also making inroads into the evolution, genetics, and neurobiology of behaviors that flies use to avoid being infected by the wasps and to cure themselves once they are infected, including various self-medication behaviors.

Selected Publications: 

  1. Fruit flies diversify their offspring in response to parasite infection Singh ND, Criscoe DR, Skolfield S, Kohl KP, Keebaugh ES, Schlenke TA Science 349, 747-750 (2015)
  2. A role for nematocytes in the cellular immune response of the Drosophilid Zaprionus indianus Kacsoh BZ, Bozler J, Schlenke TA Parasitology 141, 697-715 (2014)
  3. Insights from natural host-parasite interactions: The Drosophila model Keebaugh ES, Schlenke TA Developmental and Comparative Immunology 42, 111-123 (2013)
  4. Parasitoid wasp venom SERCA regulates Drosophila calcium levels and inhibits cellular immunity Mortimer NT, Goecks J, Kacsoh BZ, Mobley JA, Bowersock GJ, Taylor J, Schlenke TA PNAS 110, 9427-9432 (2013)
  5. Integrative approach reveals composition of endoparasitoid wasp venoms Goecks J, Mortimer NT, Mobley JA, Bowersock GJ, Taylor J, Schlenke TA PLoS One 8, e64125 (2013)
  6. Fruit flies medicate offspring after seeing parasites Kacsoh BZ, Lynch ZR, Mortimer NT, Schlenke TA Science, 339, 947-950 (2013)
  7. Mgat1-dependent N-glycosylation of membrane components primes Drosophila melanogaster blood cells for the cellular encapsulation response Mortimer NT, Kacsoh BZ, Keebaugh ES, Schlenke TA PLoS Pathogens, 8, e1002819 (2012) 
  8. High hemocyte load is associated with increased resistance against parasitoids in Drosophila suzukii, a relative of D. melanogaster Kacsoh BZ, Schlenke TA PLoS One 7, e34721 (2012)
  9. Alcohol consumption as self-medication against blood-borne parasites in the fruit fly Milan N, Kacsoh BZ, Schlenke TA Current Biology 22, 488-493 (2012)
  10. Defence strategies against a parasitoid wasp in Drosophila: fight or flight? Lefevre T, de Roode JC, Kacsoh BZ, Schlenke TA Biology Letters 8, 230-233 (2012)
  11. Adaptive evolution of a novel Drosophila lectin induced by parasitic wasp attack Keebaugh ES, Schlenke TA Molecular Biology and Evolution, 29, 565-577 (2012)
  12. Contrasting infection strategies in generalist and specialist wasp parasitoids of Drosophila melanogaster Schlenke TA, Morales J, Govind S, Clark AG PLoS Pathogens 3, 1-16 (2007)
  13. Linkage disequilibrium and recent selection in three potential pattern recognition receptor loci in Drosophila simulans Schlenke TA, Begun DJ Genetics 169, 2013-2022 (2005) 
  14. Strong selective sweep associated with a transposon insertion in Drosophila simulans Schlenke TA, Begun DJ PNAS 101, 1626-1631 (2004)
  15. Natural selection drives Drosophila immune system evolution Schlenke TA, Begun DJ Genetics 164, 1471-1490 (2003)