Dynamics and origins of socially induced plasticity of behaviour

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Biology

Abstract

Desert locusts are notorious insect pests that periodically devastate crops and pastures at considerable human and economic cost. Unlike other grasshoppers, locusts can reversibly change between two dramatically different forms, one of which is configured for a life in migratory swarms. This transformation, or Phase Change, is driven by large fluctuations in population density. At low population densities locusts occur in the Solitarious Phase, where they are cryptic in appearance and behaviour, and most importantly, actively avoid other locusts. When locusts are forced together, they transform into the Gregarious Phase. Gregarious locusts look very different and are highly active, but crucially are attracted towards other locusts so that they can eventually aggregate into swarms. The change from solitarious to gregarious behaviour takes just a few hours whereas physical changes take several generations. We have previously demonstrated that a surge in the brain chemical serotonin during the early stages of crowding triggers this rapid change in behaviour, although how it does so is unknown. Serotonin has similarly important roles in many other animals, including humans, where it is involved in the regulation of mood and aggression. We now seek to understand how serotonin sets phase change in train, and whether phase change has arisen from behavioural traits such boldness/shyness or activity/quiescence that define 'personality' differences in other animals. We wish to determine whether such basic traits have been co-opted during evolution into the process of phase change, thus explaining their common regulation through serotonin. We will examine this by contrasting locust strains that show differing propensity to change phase, and by contrasting closely related species that do not swarm at all.

Our research makes use of sophisticated automatic movement tracking systems to test the behaviours of locusts faced with different 'problems' such as moving to food across an open space or responding to a crowd of other locusts. We couple these analyses with biochemical techniques for measuring serotonin and other neurochemicals in the same animals, so we can begin to determine what governs the different and changing expressions of behaviour. We will use drugs (including some that are used in humans) to manipulate the serotonin pathway, and electrophysiological methods to record from particular serotonin-containing nerve cells that we suspect are critical to phase change. Our research will use a technique called fast scan cyclic voltammetry to measure the release of serotonin in ways that have not previously been possible in insects, and we will work with a new statistical software company to develop and use innovative analyses of behaviour. A core part of our work is to build on a number of international collaborations including one recently agreed with the Centre for Locust Control in Mauritania. Through these partnership we will gain access to wild locusts that provide an important contrast to the lab strains we already have. Research visits between the labs and field station will permit new insights for both teams of workers. The University of Leicester has recently invested more than £100k in a world-leading locust research facility to support our work.

The key outcomes of our work will be: (1) an increased understanding of the processes leading to the formation and dissipation of locust swarms, with potential applications to swarm control; (2) new insights into the evolution of phase change and its relationship to fundamental behavioural characteristics; (3) increased understanding of the biochemical pathways through which serotonin works, and of how these pathways can be co-opted into new behaviours; and (4) new international and commercial collaborations.

Technical Summary

When faced with environmental change, animals can modify their behaviour across multiple traits in a coordinated fashion. Nevertheless there are bounds to such plasticity, and these differ between individuals and species. We will elucidate the neurochemical mechanisms that control the dynamics and limits of socially induced behavioural plasticity. Desert Locusts show extreme phenotypic plasticity in response to crowding or isolation, changing from a shy, cryptic 'solitarious phase' that avoids conspecifics, to a 'gregarious phase' that is actively attracted to other locusts. We will compare wild locusts from Mauritania with a lab strain, and with related non-swarming species that have lost phase change to different extents. We have previously identified serotonin (5HT) as the key neurochemical driving the initial transition from the solitarious to the gregarious phenotype. We will use electrophysiology, fast scan cyclic voltammetry and high performance liquid chromatography to address two fundamental questions about the neurochemical control of behaviour: (1) Do neuromodulators change their function according to behavioural state, which they themselves may regulate? and (2) Is the neuromodulatory release machinery itself subject to the plastic reconfigurations that it mediates? To infer behavioural state from movement trajectories, we will complement our existing statistical toolset with Bayesian hierarchical models with latent time-dependent states. We will investigate the role of 5HT and other neurochemicals in risk-taking and exploration, and relate this to phase state in the same individuals. This will test our hypothesis that phase change has evolved through the co-option of pre-existing behavioural syndromes that are common across many animal species, possibly by recruiting pleiotropic proximate mechanisms.

Planned Impact

Our work is centred on understanding the mechanisms underpinning a fundamentally important aspect of all brain function called plasticity. This is the ability to change and adapt to new challenges through learning, remembering and forgetting. Primary beneficiaries of our research will be academic colleagues with cognate research programmes and the wider life science research community. The conceptual impact of our work is by no means limited to specialists, however: the national and international media coverage that our work has received testifies to the public fascination with locust swarms, and with the deep similarities in socially induced transformations across creatures as diverse as insects and humans (latest: BBC FOUR programme 'Metamorphosis: The Science of Change' 17 Mar 2013). In this way, the project will support the science media sector and further public engagement with science in the UK.

We approach the question of socially induced plasticity in one of the most notorious crop pests, the Desert Locust. In 2013 alone, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has issued Amber Light-Threat warnings for Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Israel; and a Yellow Light-Caution warning for Yemen (http://www.fao.org/ag/locusts/en/). The 2004/05 outbreak in West Africa affected many countries including Mauritania, Niger, Sudan, Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia, with locust control agencies applying pesticides to an area of 130,000 km2 at an estimated cost in excess of US$400 million (FAO). The disastrous effects on food security in West Africa went far beyond the monetary value of the lost crop (FAO estimate: up to US$2.5 billion). By elucidating the mechanisms controlling the propensity of locusts to form swarms, our work will influence pest control and food security in the countries affected and, through the scale of the threat, globally. The wider range of beneficiaries therefore includes those whose food is periodically devastated by swarms, government locust control agencies, and - in the very long term - third sector relief organisations through reduced need for food aid.

An immediate private enterprise beneficiary will be Openbrain, a University of Leicester spin-out who are developing a unique web-based Bayesian data modelling platform (letter from the Director enclosed). Openbrain was born out of a previous BBSRC-funded research project into locust neuroscience led by Matheson [BB/H002510/1]. Our new project will generate a large set of videos of locust behaviour in an arena and corresponding movement tracks (estimated 10,000 videos/tracks over the three years) that we will share with Openbrain. This will enable Openbrain to road-test their platform in a new application area while assisting us with our new analyses.

Our project will contribute directly to the BBSRC Strategic Goal of training skilled researchers, with immediate benefit for UK science and industry and the overseas science base. These transferable skills will centre on bringing together diverse technologies and concepts to solve complex problems that do not yield to a one-dimensional approach. Training will focus particularly on study design, analysis and statistical inference. We have a proven track record of hosting and training researchers from our collaborators' labs. Our development of an internationally important solitary locust research facility will create a long-term resource to support training of visiting researchers, including those from countries affected by locust swarms. By establishing functional links with institutions in these countries (e.g. Mauritania: Centre National de Lutte Antiacridienne), and through the sustained interactions that will follow, the project will facilitate the translation of lab-based knowledge into experimental work with greater relevance and impact in the field.
 
Title Black locust image 
Description Black locust image used in promotional flyer and on web pages by University of Kent, Tizard Centre, to advertise 'Applied Research Ethics and Integrity Conference 2018'. 
Type Of Art Image 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Increased participation in this conference focussed on research ethics and 3Rs policy. 
 
Title Blue Wing 
Description Tom Matheson submitted an artistic photographic rendering of a locust wing to an online BBSRC competition open to public voting. 
Type Of Art Image 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact 200 members of the public voted for this image, which was one of the shortlisted finalists in the competition, viewed by several thousands of people. 
URL http://bbsrc2014.picturk.com/
 
Title Gene genie locust image 
Description 'Gene genie' locust image selected for Images of Research competition, University of Leicester 2017. 
Type Of Art Image 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Increased the visibility of our research. 
 
Title Locust image 
Description Cover image on Advances in Insect Physiology 53 (2017). Academic Press. 
Type Of Art Image 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Increased visibility of our review paper contained in the journal. 
 
Title Locust image 
Description Locust image used in promotional graphic on Physiological Society (UK) web pages to advertise 'Sensory transduction in Insects' symposium 2017. 
Type Of Art Image 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Increased visibility of our research at this conference. 
 
Description We have identified pronounced differences in specific aspects of behaviour between wild locusts obtained from the field (Mauritania) and two inbred lab strains of the same species. Specifically, the behavioural change in response to crowding is much less pronounced in one of the laboratory strains.

We have discovered that solitarious (non-swarming) locusts can display behavioural traits that are typically associated with gregarious (swarming) locusts, even though they have not experienced crowding or stimuli that are known to trigger behavioural gregarisation. Specifically, solitarious locusts are known for their hesitant mode of locomotion, but we have found that this trait is unexpectedly plastic. We have identified two factors that lead to a loss of locomotor hesitation in solitarious locusts. First, age: young adult solitarious locusts move much more hesitantly than gregarious locusts. However, over the course of the first 1-2 months of their adult lives, solitarious locusts lose this hesitation and become comparable to gregarious locusts, which walk much more readily and briskly. Second, familiarity. Our current evidence suggests that the more hesitant behaviour seen in (young adult) solitarious locusts is in part a response to an unfamiliar environment.

We have succeeded in adapting a technique known as Fast Scan Cyclic Voltammetry (FSCV) to measure the release of serotonin in the locust central nervous system in vivo at high temporal resolution. This has enabled us to demonstrate that serotonin is released in response to defined mechanical stimuli which are known to cause the transition from solitarious to gregarious behaviour.

We have adopted Bayesian statistical analysis techniques for estimating between- and within-individual variability in behaviour. This has enabled us to reveal pronounced differences in behavioural consistency between the two phases of the desert locust. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a socially mediated modulation of behavioural variability.
Exploitation Route Identification of the genetic underpinnings of the reduced response to crowding in inbred laboratory strains may have wide-ranging implications for the control of locust outbreaks in the wild.

The successful application of FSCV to measuring serotonin release in locusts in vivo opens up a wide range of research possibilities for measuring neurotransmitter dynamics using insects as experimental model systems.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment

 
Description Our research was chosen as the topic for an article in the end-of-term Magazine of the prestigious German School of Journalism (Deutsche Journalistenschule, www.djs-online.de). 3000 print copies of the magazine were sent out to all big publishing houses in Germany. An online version is available at http://www.klartext-magazin.de/53A/das-magazin/.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Creative Economy,Education
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Development of advanced level in vivo electrophysiology training material
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Course provides advanced training in electrophysiological techniques underpinning in vivo research to 6 PhD level researchers per year. Open to BBSRC and Institutionally funded researchers from the Midlands region, UK.
 
Description NC3Rs Expert Working Group on Impact
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact National level funding body guidance on impact generation in the area of improved animal welfare.
 
Description 14ALERT
Amount £638,019 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/M012034/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2015 
End 01/2016
 
Description BBSRC MIBPT studentship for Mr Brendan O'Connor
Amount £70,000 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 03/2021
 
Description CMBSP College PhD Studentship
Amount £56,244 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leicester 
Department College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2016 
End 09/2019
 
Title Development of solitarious locust facility and techniques to rear and work with solitarious and gregarious locusts 
Description Development of world-leading state-of-the-art solitarious (isolated) locust facility and techniques to rear and work with solitarious and gregarious locusts. Space to quarantine field-sourced animals and carry out experimental protocols. Crucial to support research into mechanisms of locust swarming. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact New collaborations (Ould Babah, Mauritania; Fonseca, Brazil). TV documentary (Back2back Productions). Showpiece at University Open Days influencing career decisions of many undergraduate students. 
 
Title uHPLC analysis of biogenic amines 
Description Development of protocols to assay biogenic amines in insect tissues 
Type Of Material Physiological assessment or outcome measure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Development of new research collaborations 
 
Description Amines in cricket behaviour Hedwig/Cambridge 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Department of Zoology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Swidbert R. Ott and Georgina Fenton have provided scientific and methodological expertise and direct experimental support on the first aspect of the collaboration: identification and characterisation of serotonergic neurones in the cricket CNS through combined intracellular recording/tracer injection and serotonin immunohistochemistry in whole mount preparations. We have hosted a PhD student from the Cambridge group in our lab and performed joint experiments. Swidbert R. Ott, Jonathan Smith and Rien De Keyser are providing scientific and methodological expertise on the second aspect of the collaboration: quantification of biogenic amines in the CNS by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (uHPLC) of CNS extracts. Samples will be sent by the Cambridge group for analysis on our state of the art uHPLC facility that was purchased with funds from this award.
Collaborator Contribution The Hedwig group contributes world-leading expertise on the behavioural neurobiology of crickets, as a model system for motor pattern generation, sound localisation and auditory pattern recognition. Our collaborators are providing us with samples of CNS tissue (brains, thoracic ganglia) for analysis in our BBSRC-supported facilities.
Impact We have successfully combined serotonin immunohistochemistry, intracellular recording/tracer labelling and confocal microscopy in the cricket CNS. This has enabled us to establish that an identified interneurone with a key role in the generation of the courtship song motor pattern is distinct from an anatomically similar neurone that had previously been identified as expressing the neuromodulator serotonin.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Analysis of serotonin in mosquito hearing organs 
Organisation University College London
Department Ear Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team advised on experimental design and sample preparation; prepared samples; analysed the samples by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (uHPLC) on our BBSRC-funded specialist uHPLC system; and carried out analyses on the data obtained.
Collaborator Contribution UCL Ear Institute provided biological samples (mosquito hearing organs) and expertise on mosquito hearing, courtship behaviour and circadian biology.
Impact Collaboration is ongoing, but we have already obtained pilot data that were used to support further grant applications.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Bayesian modelling Dalia/Loughborough 
Organisation Loughborough University
Department Department of Chemical Engineering
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Large datasets of movement trajectories and summary statistics of locust behaviour under defined laboratory conditions. Expertise in behavioural neurobiology.
Collaborator Contribution Development of innovative Bayesian methodologies for analysing latent behavioural states from trajectory summary metrics and raw movement trajectories. Expertise in mathematics, statistics and machine learning.
Impact This is a multidisciplinary collaboration between - Behavioural neurobiology (Ott, Matheson): behavioural phase change in locusts as a model of socially induced changes in latent behavioural states - Mathematics (Chakrabarty): Development of mathematical methodologies aimed at Bayesian learning given different data situations, including high-dimensional and/or missing data. The first significant outcome of this collaboration is the successful application for a University of Leicester-funded College Studentship (2016) and recruitment of a PhD student who is jointly supervised by Ott, Matheson and Chakrabarty,
Start Year 2016
 
Description Collaboration with CNLA Mauritania 
Organisation National Center for Locust Control
Country Mauritania 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Analysis of behavioural phase change and morphometric phase differences in field-derived locusts, and comparison with inbred laboratory strain housed at the University of Leicester; provision of scientific advice; offer of hosting CNLA research staff for training and research in our locust facilities.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of eggs from field-caught Mauritanian Desert Locusts.
Impact - Establishment of field-derived breeding stock of Mauritanian desert locusts at the University of Leicester - Behavioural and morphometric characterisation of phase differences and the rate of phase transition in this stock - Large library of digital videos of locust behaviour under defined laboratory conditions. This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration that spans - neuroscience - field ecology
Start Year 2013
 
Description Collaboration with Duane Fonseca 
Organisation Federal University of Minas Gerais
Department Institute of Biological Sciences
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Hosted visiting international researcher on several occasions, provided experimental material, equipment and expertise.
Collaborator Contribution Fully funded the research visits by Brazilian researcher.
Impact In progress.
Start Year 2012
 
Description Collaboration with Elli Ledbeater Lab, Royal Holloway U London 
Organisation Royal Holloway, University of London
Department School of Biological Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution SRO provided expertise on quantitative insect brain functional anatomy, immunofluorescence techniques and imaging. SRO hosted PhD research student supervised by Dr Elli Ledbeater (EL) at RHUL in his lab: 2 x 1 week stays, to provide hands-on training in different immunofluorescence techniques.
Collaborator Contribution EL seconded PhD student, provided funds for reagents and for accommodation of PhD research student. EL has secured research funding (Leverhulme Trust) that supports the project at RHUL.
Impact This collaboration is multidisciplinary, spanning two fields: - behavioural and cognitive neurobiology (EL) - quantitative brain imaging and functional neuroanatomy (SRO).
Start Year 2018
 
Description RNAseq collaboration with Leuven 
Organisation Catholic University of Louvain
Country Belgium 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Scientific advice; design and co-ordination of research programme; experimental design.
Collaborator Contribution Implementation of jointly designed experiments; collection of biological samples; bioinformatic analysis of RNAseq data.
Impact We have obtained high quality RNAseq data about the transcriptomic changes that accompany the very early phase of behavioural gregarisation in the Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria). This collaboration is multi-disciplinary as it stand the following disciplines: - molecular biology - bioinformatics - whole organism biology: animal behaviour Outputs: a first conference presentation will be given in a talk at the XXV International Congress of Entomology 2016 in Orlando, Florida.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Schistocerca genome consortium 
Organisation Texas A&M University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Experimental design, strategic planning and coordination of research; financial contribution towards sequencing cost.
Collaborator Contribution Colleagues at the University of Leuven: generation of highly inbred lines for genome sequencing; sample collection and initial processing; financial contribution towards sequencing cost. Colleagues at Texas A&M University: experimental design, strategic planning and coordination of research; financial contribution towards sequencing cost. Colleagues at the University of Ghent: DNA sequencing and bioinformatics analyses for whole-genome assembly.
Impact Genomic samples are currently undergoing sequencing and bioinformatics analysis. This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between experts in insect neurobiology and behaviour, genome scientists and bioinformaticians. The aim of this collaboration is the assembly of the genome of the Desert Locust, Schistocerca gregaria.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Schistocerca genome consortium 
Organisation University of Ghent
Country Belgium 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Experimental design, strategic planning and coordination of research; financial contribution towards sequencing cost.
Collaborator Contribution Colleagues at the University of Leuven: generation of highly inbred lines for genome sequencing; sample collection and initial processing; financial contribution towards sequencing cost. Colleagues at Texas A&M University: experimental design, strategic planning and coordination of research; financial contribution towards sequencing cost. Colleagues at the University of Ghent: DNA sequencing and bioinformatics analyses for whole-genome assembly.
Impact Genomic samples are currently undergoing sequencing and bioinformatics analysis. This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between experts in insect neurobiology and behaviour, genome scientists and bioinformaticians. The aim of this collaboration is the assembly of the genome of the Desert Locust, Schistocerca gregaria.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Schistocerca genome consortium 
Organisation University of Leuven
Country Belgium 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Experimental design, strategic planning and coordination of research; financial contribution towards sequencing cost.
Collaborator Contribution Colleagues at the University of Leuven: generation of highly inbred lines for genome sequencing; sample collection and initial processing; financial contribution towards sequencing cost. Colleagues at Texas A&M University: experimental design, strategic planning and coordination of research; financial contribution towards sequencing cost. Colleagues at the University of Ghent: DNA sequencing and bioinformatics analyses for whole-genome assembly.
Impact Genomic samples are currently undergoing sequencing and bioinformatics analysis. This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between experts in insect neurobiology and behaviour, genome scientists and bioinformaticians. The aim of this collaboration is the assembly of the genome of the Desert Locust, Schistocerca gregaria.
Start Year 2017
 
Description 2015 radio feature NPR (Lulu Miller; broadcast 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Swidbert Ott, Tom Matheson and their team worked with American writer, artist, and science reporter Lulu Miller (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lulu_Miller) on a radio feature for NPR (National Public Radio) on locusts.

The feature aired on June 23, 2017, 2:00 AM ET: episode "True You" of the NPR radio show "Invisibilia" (https://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2017
URL https://www.npr.org/2017/06/23/533947261/true-you
 
Description Article on our research for a lay audience published in the University of Leicester's Botanic Garden Newsletter. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Article on our research for a lay audience published in the University of Leicester's Botanic Garden Newsletter.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description BBSRC Business mag 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Swidbert R. Ott worked with the BBSRC Press Office on a feature article in the print magazine BBSRC Business (Spring 2015 issue), a controlled circulation magazine which is distributed free of charge to end users of research and to individuals with an interest in BBSRC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/documents/bbsrc-business-spring-2015/
 
Description BBSRC News online feature 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Swidbert R. Ott worked with the BBSRC on a blog feature for Fundamental Bioscience News on the BBSRC website:
Bugs' life: the nerve cells that make locusts 'gang up'
The feature went live on 17 December 2014 and is available from the URL below.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/fundamental-bioscience/2014/141217-pr-nerve-cells-that-make-locusts-gang...
 
Description BNA Bulletin 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Swidbert R. Ott gave an interview to the BNA Bulletin, the print magazine of the British Neuroscience Association, on his research career and contributions to locust phase change research. SRO also provided images relating to BBSRC-funded research.

The double-page feature article "All Change: Phase transitions in the desert locust" appeared in the Autumn 2015 issue of the BNA Bulletin. One of the images provided by SRO, showing the expression of serotonergic neurones in part of the locust CNS, was chosen as cover image for the print magazine.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bna.org.uk
 
Description Back2Back TV production 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Tom Matheson and Swidbert Ott provided experimental material and expertise to an independent television production company, Back2Back Productions, in the course of making the broadcast TV programme 'Richard E Grant's Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony', shown on Sky TV, Discovery Channel and available Online.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.back2back.tv/programmes/programdetail/?pt=srs&pid=1000112
 
Description Brain Awareness Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Several members of the research group contributed posters and hands-on demonstrations based on our specific research programmes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/npb/people/matheson/matheson-neurobiology/pop
 
Description Brain Awareness Day Events 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Tom Matheson and members of the research group carried out live hands-on demonstrations of insect electrophysiology, exhibited live locusts, and displayed posters related to our research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2016,2017
 
Description Claudia Steinert interview 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Swidbert R. Ott was interviewed by German science writer Claudia Steinert for an article in the end-of-term Magazine of the prestigious German School of Journalism (Deutsche Journalistenschule, www.djs-online.de). 3000 print copies of the magazine were sent out to all big publishing houses in Germany. An online version is available at http://www.klartext-magazin.de/53A/das-magazin/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.klartext-magazin.de/53A/das-magazin/
 
Description Entry in Images of Research photographic competition 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Locust image by Tom Matheson and Heleen Verlinden shortlisted in University of Leicester 'Images of Research' competition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Hosted school student for summer project 2015 (CDS) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Hosted summer project student (CDS) who received training in locust husbandry and behavioural analyses related to our work on locust swarming, and training in limb kinematics relating to our work on plasticity of aimed limb movements. Carried out research measurements.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Hosted school summer project student 2016 (MO) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Hosted work experience student (MO) who received training in limb kinematics relating to our work on plasticity of aimed limb movements. Carried out research measurements.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Hosted school work experience student (MO) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Hosted work experience student (MO) who received training in locust husbandry and behavioural analyses related to our work on locust swarming, and training in limb kinematics relating to our work on plasticity of aimed limb movements.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Hosted school work experience student 2015 (CDS) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Hosted work experience student (CDS) who received training in locust husbandry and behavioural analyses related to our work on locust swarming, and trainng in limb kinematics relating to our work on plasticity of aimed limb movements.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Hosting work experience student (GP) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Hosting work experience student from a local school for one week.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/npb/people/matheson/matheson-neurobiology/pop
 
Description Interactive locust neurophysiology demonstration and posters at Brain Awareness Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact On display were live locusts in both their swarming gregarious form and non-swarming solitarious form, interactive live electrophysiological recordings of the visual responses of alert locusts, and posters describing our research. The afternoon and evening sessions were attended by more than 300 people of all ages.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/npb/people/matheson/matheson-neurobiology/pop
 
Description Live displays and posters at University of Leicester Brain Awareness Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Tom Matheson, Swidbert Ott and members of their research groups presented posters and live displays of locusts and electrophysiology at University of Leicester Brain Awareness Day.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Press release 'Bugs Life' 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Swidbert R. Ott worked with the University of Leicester Press Office:
Press release "Bugs life: the nerve cells that make locusts 'gang up'" relating to publication of
Rogers, Ott (2015) Differential activation of serotonergic neurons during short- and long-term gregarization of desert locusts. Proc. Biol. Sci., DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.2062

The press release was taken up by many online science news services and news feeds, including:
ScienceDaily (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141217090612.htm)
(e)ScienceNews (http://esciencenews.com/articles/2014/12/17/bugs.life.the.nerve.cells.make.locusts.gang)
PhysOrg (http://phys.org/news/2014-12-bugs-life-nerve-cells-locusts.html)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/press-releases/2014/december/bugs-life-the-nerve-cells-that-make-...
 
Description School work experience placement 2016 (FS) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Hosted work experience student (FS) who received training in locust husbandry and behavioural analyses related to our work on locust swarming.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Seminar Talk: School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact SRO presented his research at the School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, Univ. London.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Work experience placement 2015 (LW) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Hosted work experience student (LW) who received training in locust husbandry and behavioural analyses related to our work on locust swarming
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016