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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Faculty & Research

Faculty Profile

Farrah Bashey-Visser

Photo of Farrah Bashey-Visser
Research Images
Research photo by Farrah Bashey-Visser

Thousands of Steinernema carpocapsae nematodes emerging from an infected Galleria mellonella caterpillar.

Assistant Scientist

IU Affiliations
Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior

Contact Information
By telephone: 812-855-1962
Sycamore Hall 039

Bashey Lab Website

Evolution, Ecology & Behavior
Research Areas
  • Ecology
  • Evolution
  • Microbial Interactions and Pathogenesis

PhD, University of California, Riverside 2002

Research Description

Broadly, I am motivated by understanding how variable and conflicting selective demands shape the evolution of organisms. The traits that interest me most are traits that are involved in trade-offs. For example, why would an organism attack a competitor, even if it meant certain death? How harmful should a parasite be to its hosts? When should a mother produce fewer offspring? My approach is to test theoretical predictions, either by manipulating the environment experimentally or comparing populations that differ in the field.

Currently, my work focuses on insect-parasitic nematodes (genus Steinernema) and their symbiotic bacteria (genus Xenorhabdus).  We have used these organisms in experimental studies to examine how different selective pressures within and among hosts shape the evolution of parasite virulence and host exploitation. We have found that among-host selection can change the number, size, and timing of nematodes emerging from an infected insect.  We have also found that greater migration of parasites among their insect hosts results in greater within-host competition.  This competition is especially apparent among the bacteria, which produce allelopathic toxins (bacteriocins) to inhibit each other's growth.  Conconmitent with the greater inhibition among the bacteria, these infections progress more slowly such that the insect takes longer to die and nematodes longer to emerge.

We have also begun to examine a natural community of entomopathogens. On one hillside we have isolated three species of Steinernema and two species of Xenorhabdus.  We are beginning to characterize the virulence, life history, behavior, and ecological requirements of each species of nematode.  We have also examined the bacteriocin-based antagonisms both within and between each bacterial species.  We have found multiple clones of each species which differ in their genetic fingerprints and in their inhibition behavior.  We are now characterizing these clones further, and exploring the mechanisms maintaining diversity in this system.

In previous work, I examined the selective mechanisms causing local adaptation and phenotypic plasticity in offspring size of the Trinidadian guppy.

Select Publications
Bashey, F. (2015) Within-host competitive interactions as a mechanism for the maintenance of parasite diversity. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 370.  [article]
Bashey, F., Hawlena, H. & Lively, C.M. (2013) Alternative Paths to Success in a Parasite Community: Within-Host Competition Can Favor Higher Virulence or Direct Interference. Evolution, 67, 900-907.  [article]
Bashey, F., S. K. Young, H. Hawlena, and C. M. Lively. 2012. Spiteful Interactions between Sympatric Natural Isolates of Xenorhabdus bovienii Benefit Kin and Reduce Virulence. Journal of Evolutionary Biology:431-437.  [article]
Bashey, F., Reynolds, C., Sarin, T. and Young, S. K. (2011). Virulence and competitive ability in an obligately killing parasite. Oikos,  doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2011.19304.x.
Hawlena, H., F. Bashey, H. Mendes Soares and C. M. Lively (2010). Spiteful Interactions in a Natural Population of the Bacterium Xenorhabdus bovienii. The American Naturalist 175(3): 374-381.
Hawlena, H., Bashey, F. and Lively, C. M. (2010). The evolution of spite: population structure and bacteriocin-mediated antagonism in two natural populations of Xenorhabdus bacteria. Evolution, 64(11), 3198-3204.
Bashey, F. and C. M. Lively. (2009) Group Selection on Population Size affects Life-history Patterns in the Entomopathogenic Nematode Steinernema carpocapsae.  Evolution. 63: 1301-1311.
Bashey, F. (2008) Competition as a Selective Mechanism for Larger Offspring Size in Guppies. Oikos 117: 104-113.
Vigneux, F., F. Bashey, M. Sicard, and C. M. Lively. (2008) Low Migration Decreases Interference Competition among Parasites and Increases Virulence. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 21:1245-1251.
Bashey, F., L. Morran, and C. M. Lively. (2007) Coinfection, Kin Selection, and the Rate of Host Exploitation by a Parasitic Nematode. Evolutionary Ecology Research. 9: 947-958.
Bashey, F. (2006) Cross-generational Environmental Effects and the Evolution of Offspring Size in the Trinidadian Guppy Poecilia reticulata. Evolution 60: 348-361.


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