Some parasites manipulate the behaviour of their hosts to increase parasite survival and transmission. Although many examples of this phenomenon are known, we still know very little on how these parasites can induce these behavioural alterations.
To better understand behavioural manipulation we used a baculovirus and its host (a caterpillar) as model system. The research shows that caterpillars become hyperactive during the infection and that they climb upwards, causing them to die at elevated positions in the plant as a result of virus infection. A viral protein was identified that causes caterpillars te become hyperactive. Furthermore, the research shows that the virus using distinct mechanisms to induce hyperactivity and upward climbing prior to death, and that the upward climbing is caused by diseased caterpillars getting strongly attracted to light.