Csongor I. Vágási

Vágási I. Csongor

Csongor I. Vágási, PhD – PostDoc

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2014–present: PostDoc, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
2013–2014: PostDoc, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj Napoca, Romania
2010–2013: research assistant, Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj Napoca, Romania
2010–2013: research assistant, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
2006–2009: PhD (biology), University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
2004–2005: MSc (ecology), Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj Napoca, Romania
2000–2004: BSc (biology), Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj Napoca, Romania

Research interest

– oxidative stress
– feather quality and moult
– immune investment
– functions of the uropygial gland
– plumage colouration
– animal personalities

Redox state in birds
This is my current mainstream interest. Why organisms grow old and die is one of the major questions in biology. Whether the rate of free radical production can at least partly explain ageing is intensely debated. Although our understanding matures in this respect, there are still questions and hypotheses waiting for answers. Besides life-history, redox physiology is thought to govern the evolution of costly phenotypic traits as well. This is realized by oxidative homeostasis being a key player in mediating negative covariations, trade-offs, (1) via resource allocation dilemma (Y-model) given that antioxidants and repair mechanisms are costly, or (2) via functional suppression of fitness-related processes by oxidative stress.

Phylogenetic comparison is a useful technique to detect correlated evolution. I propose to study how redox state correlates with life history and costly phenotypic traits by means of phylogenetic comparisons and using birds as model organisms. Birds are good study group because they are longer-lived than similar-sized mammals despite the fact that birds have higher rate-of-living, body temperature and metabolic rate. For this, we collected blood samples from a wide variety of European bird species and measured multiple aspects of their oxidative physiology: (1) the antioxidant machinery via (a) the total antioxidant capacity of the plasma, (b) the concentration of uric acid and (c) the concentration of glutathione, (2) the level of oxidative challenge via the concentration of reactive oxygen species (hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, a major non-radical pro-oxidant, which takes part in the Fenton chemistry), and (3) the degree of peroxidative damage of cell membrane lipids via the concentration of malondialdehyde (by HPLC).

A good website to browse in the topic of ageing and its underlying mechanisms is this by João Pedro de Magalhães.


  1. Fülöp A, Vágási CI and Pap PL 2017. Cohabitation with farm animals rather than breeding effort increases the infection with feather-associated bacteria in the barn swallow Hirundo rustica. Journal of Avian Biology (in press). pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vincze O, Wekerle B, Daubner T, Vágási CI, Nudds RL, Dyke GJ and Osváth G 2017. A phylogenetic comparative analysis reveals correlations between body feather structure and habitat. Functional Ecology (in press).

  1. Geue JC, Vágási CI, Schweizer M, Pap PL and Thomassen HA 2016. Environmental selection is a main driver of divergence in house sparrows (Passer domesticus) in Romania and Bulgaria. Ecology and Evolution 6: 7954–7964.

  1. Vágási CI, Vincze O, Pătraș L, Osváth G, Marton A, Bărbos L, Sol D and Pap PL 2016. Large-brained birds suffer less oxidative damage. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29: 1968–1976.

  1. Fülöp A, Czirják GÁ, Pap PL and Vágási CI 2016. Feather-degrading bacteria, uropygial gland and feather quality in House Sparrows Passer domesticus. Ibis 158: 362–370.

  1. Vágási CI, Pap PL, Vincze O, Osváth G, Erritzøe J and Møller AP 2016. Morphological adaptations to migration in birds. Evolutionary Biology 43: 48–59.

  1. Paștiu AI, Pap PL, Vágási CI, Niculae M, Páll E, Brudașcă FG and Spînu M 2016. Wild birds in Romania are more exposed to West Nile virus than to Newcastle Disease virus. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 16: 176–180.

  1. Vincze O, Vágási CI, Pap PL, Osváth G and Møller AP 2015. Brain regions associated with visual cues are important for bird migration. Biology Letters 11: 20150678. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Osváth G, Aparicio JM, Bărbos L, Matyjasiak P, Rubolini D, Saino N, Vágási CI, Vincze O and Møller AP 2015. Sexual dimorphism and population differences in structural properties of barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) wing and tail feathers. PLoS ONE 10: e0130844. pdf

  1. Fenesi A, Vágási CI, Beldean M, Földesi R, Kolcsár L-P, Shapiro JT, Török E and Kovács-Hostyánszki A 2015. Solidago canadensis impacts on native plant and pollinator communities in different-aged old fields. Basic and Applied Ecology 16: 335–346. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Pătraș L, Osváth G, Buehler DM, Versteegh MA, Sesarman A, Banciu M and Vágási CI 2015. Seasonal patterns and relationships among coccidian infestations, measures of oxidative physiology, and immune function in free-living house sparrows over an annual cycle. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 88: 395–405. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Osváth G, Sándor K, Vincze O, Bărbos L, Marton A, Nudds RL and Vágási CI 2015. Interspecific variation in the structural properties of flight feathers in birds indicates adaptation to flight requirements and habitat. Functional Ecology 29: 746–757. pdf

    Spotlighted paper in the 29(6) issue of Functional Ecology.

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Vincze O, Osváth G, Veres-Szászka J and Czirják GÁ. 2015. Physiological pace of life: the link between constitutive immunity, developmental period, and metabolic rate in European birds. Oecologia 177: 147–158. pdf

  1. Diaz-Real J, Serrano D, Pérez-Tris J, Fernández-González S, Bermejo A, Calleja JA, De la Puente J, De Palacio D, Martínez JL, Moreno-Opo R, Ponce C, Frías Ó, Tella JL, Møller AP, Figuerola J, Pap PL, Kovács I, Vágási CI, Meléndez L, Blanco G, Aguilera E, Senar JC, Galván I, Atiénzar F, Barba E, Cantó JL, Cortés V, Monrós JS, Piculo R, Vögeli M, Borràs A, Navarro C, Mestre A and Jovani R 2014. Repeatability of feather mite prevalence and intensity in passerine birds. PLoS ONE 9: e107341. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Sesarman A, Vágási CI, Buehler DM, Pătraș L, Versteegh MA and Banciu M 2014. No Evidence for Parasitism-linked Changes in Immune Function or Oxidative Physiology over the Annual Cycle of an Avian Species. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 87: 729–739. pdf

  1. Vágási CI 2014. The origin of feather holes: a word of caution. Journal of Avian Biology 45: 431–436. pdf

  1. Bókony V, Lendvai ÁZ, Vágási CI, Pătraș L, Pap PL, Németh J, Vincze E, Papp S, Preiszner B, Seress G and Liker A. 2014. Necessity or capacity? Physiological state predicts problem-solving performance in house sparrows. Behavioral Ecology 25: 124–135. pdf

  1. Vincze O, Vágási CI, Kovács I, Galván I and Pap PL 2013. Sources of variation in uropygial gland size in European birds. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 110: 543–563. pdf

  1. Møller AP, Vágási CI and Pap PL 2013. Risk-taking and the evolution of mechanisms for rapid escape from predators. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 26: 1143–1150. pdf

  1. Czirják GÁ, Pap PL, Vágási CI, Giraudeau M, Mureşan C, Mirleau P and Heeb P 2013. Preen gland removal increases plumage bacterial load but not that of feather-degrading bacteria. Naturwissenschaften 100: 145–151. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Bărbos L and Marton A 2013. Chronic coccidian infestation compromises flight feather quality in house sparrows Passer domesticus. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 108: 414–428. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Adam C, Vágási CI, Benkő Z and Vincze O 2013. Sex ratio and sexual dimorphism of three lice species with contrasting prevalence parasitizing the house sparrow. Journal of Parasitology 99: 24–30. pdf

  1. Vágási CI, Pap PL, Vincze O, Benkő Z, Marton A and Barta Z 2012. Haste Makes Waste but Condition Matters: Molt Rate-Feather Quality Trade-Off in a Sedentary Songbird. PLoS ONE 7: e40651. pdf

  1. Galván I, Aguilera E, Atiénzar F, Barba E, Blanco G, Cantó JL, Cortés V, Frías Ó, Kovács I, Meléndez L, Møller AP, Monrós JS, Pap PL, Piculo R, Senar JC, Serrano D, Tella JL, Vágási CI, Vögeli M and Jovani R 2012. Feather mites and body condition of their avian hosts: a large correlative study. Journal of Avian Biology 43: 273–279. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Czirják GÁ, Titilincu A, Pintea A, Osváth G, Fülöp A and Barta Z 2011. The effect of coccidians on the condition and immune profile of molting house sparrows (Passer domesticus). Auk 128: 330–339. pdf

  1. Vágási CI, Pap PL, Tökölyi J, Székely E and Barta Z 2011. Correlates of variation in flight feather quality in the Great Tit Parus major. Ardea 99: 53–60. pdf

  1. Vágási CI, Pap PL and Barta Z 2010. Haste Makes Waste: Accelerated Molt Adversely Affects the Expression of Melanin-based and Depigmented Plumage Ornaments in House Sparrows. PLoS ONE 5: e14215. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Osváth G, Mureşan C and Barta Z 2010. Seasonality in the uropygial gland size and feather mite abundance in house sparrows: natural covariation and an experiment. Journal of Avian Biology 41: 653–661. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Czirják GÁ, Vágási CI, Barta Z and Hasselquist D 2010. Sexual dimorphism in immune function changes during the annual cycle in the house sparrows. Naturwissenschaften 97: 891–901. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Tökölyi J, Czirják GÁ and Barta Z 2010. Variation in haematological indices and immune function during the annual cycle in the Great Tit Parus major. Ardea 98: 105–112. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Czirják GÁ, Titilincu A, Pintea A and Barta Z 2009. Carotenoids modulate the effect of coccidian infection on the condition and immune response in moulting house sparrows. Journal of Experimental Biology 212: 3228–3235. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Vágási CI, Czirják GÁ and Barta Z 2008. Diet quality affects postnuptial molting and feather quality of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus): interaction with humoral immune function? Canadian Journal of Zoology 86: 834–842. pdf

  1. Pap PL, Barta Z, Tökölyi J and Vágási CI 2007. Increase of feather quality during moult: a possible implication of feather deformities in the evolution of partial moult in the great tit. Journal of Avian Biology 38: 471–478. pdf

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