VIRULENCE EVOLUTION - Genetically diverse infections, competition, and the evolution of parasite virulence 

Time period:
2004-04-01 - 2005-03-31
Marie Curie Actions (MCA)

In the project proposed here, I will study host-parasite interactions from an evolutionary perspective, in particular the evolution of virulence (i.e. the harm that a parasite causes its host). The research will be conducted with Prof. A Read at the Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology (ICAPB), University of Edinburgh. Parasite infections are often mixed, that is each host is infected by two or more different clones of a particular parasite. Theory suggests that competition between clones in mixed infections is an important factor in the evolution of virulence. It also suggests that whether such competition favours increased or reduced virulence depend on the nature of the competitive interactions. This theory is largely untested. Rodent malaria has proved a useful model system to test various aspects of the theory of host-parasite interactions. I will investigate the nature of the competition between different clones of the malaria parasite, in particular whether competition is mediated by the host's immune system. To this end, I will compare the extent of competition in normal and immunodeficient (genetically engineered) mice. This proposal has three main training objectives: Fjirst, I will have the opportunity to expand my knowledge in what is for me largely a new research field. Second, I will learn to work with a new model system, i.e. rodent malaria. Third, I will learn several new techniques. Thus, the proposed project will broaden my research experience considerably. I aim to continue with research on the evolutionary ecology of host-parasite interactions after the fellowship, so the skills and knowledge I acquire in Edinburgh will be critical for my development as a researcher.

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United Kingdom
Last updated on 2011-08-18 at 19:12