Saltshakers of Death: Researching the Fungus That Turns Cicadas…

Monday, June 3, 7:30pm CT

Guest speaker: Dr. Matt Kasson, Associate Professor of Forest Pathology and Mycology at West Virginia University

Watch the Recording on YouTube

Cicadas are emerging all over Illinois this spring, and if you look closely, you might spot some with one of nature’s strangest ailments. The fungus Massospora cicadina hijacks the cicadas’ bodies and behavior, transforming them into what West Virginia University mycologist Matt Kasson refers to as “saltshakers of death.” Dr. Kasson will be giving a presentation over Zoom on Monday, June 3, at 7:30pm Central Time to tell us about his research on this bizarre fungus.

You can warm up by reading this CNN article about Massospora by IMA member and science writer Kate Golembiewski, featuring Dr. Kasson!

Dr. Kasson received his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the Pennsylvania State University where his research focused on using a native fungus, Verticillium nonalfalfae, as a biological control of the invasive tree, Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven). He also holds an A.A.S. from Paul Smiths College and a B.S. and M.S. from the University of Maine. His current research areas include fungal-arthropod interactions, biological control of invasive plants and pathogens, and the biology and ecology of historic and emerging diseases of forest trees. Dr. Kasson teaches undergraduate courses on general plant pathology and forest pest management, and offers special topics courses for graduate students including advanced plant disease diagnostics.

Don’t miss this exceptional opportunity to delve into timely research! See you there!