Elissa Hallem, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

254 BSRB

Research Interests

Our research focuses on sensory circuit function in parasitic and free-living animals, and lies at the interface of neurobiology and parasitology. Nearly all organisms respond to sensory stimuli, but how sensory circuits specify behavior is poorly understood. We are investigating the neural basis of sensory behaviors in the context of human parasitism. We use parasitic nematodes and the free-living nematode C. elegans as models. The goals of our research are to understand how parasitic worms use sensory cues to locate hosts to infect, how sensory circuits of parasitic animals differ from those of free-living animals to enable parasitic behaviors, and how sensory microcircuits generate flexible outputs. Our research addresses fundamental questions of sensory circuit function and evolution. In addition, human-parasitic worms are a major cause of morbidity worldwide, and a better understanding of their behaviors may enable the development of novel strategies for preventing infections. More information about our research program is available on our lab website, www.hallemlab.com.

Recent Publications

Ruiz, F., Castelletto, M.L., Gang, S.S., and Hallem, E.A. (2017) Experience-dependent olfactory behaviors of the parasitic nematode Heligmosomoides polygyrus. PLoS Pathog 13: e1006709.

Gang, S.S., Castelletto, M.L., Bryant, A.S., Yang, E., Mancuso, N., Lopez, J.B., Pellegrini, M., and Hallem, E.A. (2017) Targeted mutagenesis in a human-parasitic nematode. PLoS Pathog 13: e1006675.

Guillermin, M.L., Carrillo, M.A., and Hallem, E.A. (2017) A single set of interneurons drives opposite behaviors in C. elegansCurr Biol 27: 2630-2639.

Cevallos, J.A., Okubo, R.P., Perlman, S.J., and Hallem, E.A. (2017) Olfactory preferences of the parasitic nematode Howardula aoronymphium and its insect host Drosophila falleni. J Chem Ecol 43: 362-373.

Park, H.B., Sampathkumar, P., Perez, C.E., Lee, J.H., Tran, J., Bonanno, J.B., Hallem, E.A., Almo, S.C., and Crawford, J.M. (2017) Stilbene epoxidation and detoxification in a Photorhabdus luminescens-nematode symbiosis. J Biol Chem 292: 6680-6694.

Rengarajan, S., and Hallem, E.A. (2016) Olfactory circuits and behaviors of nematodes. Curr Opin Neurobiol 41: 136-148.

Gang, S.S. and Hallem, E.A. (2016) Mechanisms of host seeking by parasitic nematodes. Mol Biochem Parasitol 208: 23-32.

Lee, J., Dillman, A.R., and Hallem, E.A. (2016) Temperature-dependent changes in the host-seeking behaviors of parasitic nematodes. BMC Biol 14: 36.

Peña, J.M., Carrillo, M.A., and Hallem, E.A. (2015) Variation in the susceptibility of Drosophila to different entomopathogenic nematodes. Infect Immun 83: 1130-1138.

Carrillo, M.A. and Hallem, E.A. (2015) Gas sensing in nematodes. Mol Neurobiol 51: 919-931.

Castelletto, M.L., Gang, S.S., Okubo, R.P., Tselikova, A.A., Nolan, T.J., Platzer, E.G., Lok, J.B., and Hallem, E.A. (2014) Diverse host-seeking behaviors of skin-penetrating nematodes. PLoS Pathog 10: e1004305.

Carrillo, M.A., Guillermin, M.L., Rengarajan, S., Okubo, R.P., and Hallem, E.A. (2013) O2-Sensing Neurons Control CO2 Response in C. elegans. J Neurosci 33: 9675-9683.

Chaisson, K.E., and Hallem, E.A. (2012) Chemosensory behaviors of parasites. Trends Parasitol 28: 427-436.

Dillman, A.R., Guillermin, M.L., Lee, J., Kim, B., Sternberg, P.W., and Hallem, E.A. (2012) Olfaction shapes host-parasite interactions in parasitic nematodes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109: E2324-E2333.

Guillermin, M.L., Castelletto, M.L., and Hallem, E.A. (2011) Differentiation of carbon dioxide-sensing neurons in C. elegans requires the ETS-5 transcription factor. Genetics 189: 1327-1339.