The private life of malaria parasites: Strategies for survival & reproduction

Time: To be announced
Where:
To be announced
Plenary Keynote:
Prof Sarah  Reece

Discussion

Research in the Reece lab sits at the interface of parasitology, chronobiology and evolutionary ecology, motivated by the questions of “what makes a successful parasite” and “what are the evolutionary limits on their success”? Specifically, we investigate the strategies that parasites have evolved to cope with the challenges of their lifestyle, and exploit the opportunities it brings. Our research focuses on malaria parasites, which not only cause globally devastating infections in humans, livestock, and wildlife, but whose complex interactions with hosts and vectors can be manipulated and studied in controlled lab experiments. There is a great deal of research into the genetics, cellular and molecular biology, and immunology of these parasites, but conspicuously less from whole-organism, ecological, and evolutionary perspectives. Consequently, malaria parasites persist despite widespread and continuous efforts to eradicate them. Our research discovers surprising sophistication in parasite strategies for surviving in the host and for reproduction in mosquito vectors. These strategies include optimising the trade-off between transmission versus replication, optimising investment in each sex of transmission stages, and getting the timing of replication and transmission right. Understanding these strategies informs the search for the molecular mechanisms underpinning parasite phenotypes, can explain epidemiological patterns, and may uncover new approaches for interventions and how to make them as evolution-proof as possible.

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British Society for Parasitology (BSP)
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