Jaap de Roode studies the ecology and evolution of parasites, focusing on those that attack the monarch butterfly.

Why you should listen

At his lab at Emory University, Jaap de Roode and his team study parasites and their hosts. Some of the questions that intrigue them: If a parasite depends on its host's survival for its own well-being, why do so many of them cause harm? In what ways are hosts able to self-medicate in order to make themselves less desirable to parasites? And are the abilities to harm hosts — and the ability of hosts to self-medicate — favored by natural selection?

The De Roode Lab focuses on the monarch butterfly and its parasites. The team has made a fascinating discovery: that female butterflies infected by a parasite choose to lay their eggs on a specific variety of milkweed that helps their offspring avoid getting sick. De Roode hopes that this insight could lead to new approaches in medications for human beings in the future.

Jaap de Roode’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Jaap de Roode


The other butterfly effect: A youth reporter finds out how monarchs fight their own parasites

November 25, 2014

Jaap de Roode is a biologist who studies parasites and their hosts — particularly Monarch butterflies. At TEDYouth 2014, he spoke about Monarch butterflies, their self-medicating ingenuity — and what that ingenuity can help humans discover. Lubna Batool, an 11th-grade New Yorker, was fascinated. On site at TEDYouth, with a dozen monarch butterflies flapping about […]

Continue reading