A group of chemical ecology students at San Diego State University selected recent research findings of Professor Mark Hunter for a class project. They posted their phat YouTube video dubbed “Watcha Want,” a takeoff of the Beastie Boys song, Dec. 6, 2012. Watch them bust a move as they break the research down into cool beats to explain wasup between aphids, milkweed, monarchs and their parasites.

“Last year, I published a scientific paper with my colleague Jaap de Roode showing that aphids could change the chemistry of milkweed plants and therefore change the interaction between monarch butterflies and their parasites,” explained Hunter. “Monarchs use milkweed chemicals as antibiotics.” Hunter called the video “hilarious.” De Roode is an assistant professor of biology at Emory University.

The students posted the following about the video on YouTube: “Who knew? Inverts and parasites rap skillfully while interacting indirectly through plant chemistry. SDSU students interpret, DeRoode et al. (2011). Aphids indirectly increase virulence and transmission potential of a monarch butterfly parasite by reducing defensive chemistry of a shared food plant.”

Ecology letters cover story, May 2011