Aidan O’Donnell

Aidan O'Donnell

Research Assistant

Ph. +44 131 650 8642
aidan.odonnell@ed.ac.uk

I am a postgraduate research assistant with a background in Ecology, Mycology and Entomology. Currently, I am investigating the importance of biological rhythms for the survival and transmission of malaria parasites. 

Given the high prevalence of biological rhythms in the natural world (spanning multiple Kingdoms), they must play an important role in an individual's fitness. To demonstrate this, I am exploring the fitness benefit of circadian rhythms to malaria parasites (Plasmodium) and its interactions with rhythms in the mosquito vector (Anopheles spp) and vertebrate hosts.

Part of my research involves asking: what are the consequences for parasite when their rhythms are perturbed? In malaria parasites I mismatch parasite rhythms with that of their rodent host. More recently, I have begun examining to mosquitoes of disrupting their feeding rhythms and asking what impact this may have for malaria transmission.

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Publications

Rund, S.S.C.; O’Donnell, A.J.; Gentile, J.E.; Reece, S.E. (2016) Daily Rhythms in Mosquitoes and Their Consequences for Malaria Transmission. Insects, 7, 14.

Outlines new hypotheses for how daily rhythms in mosquitoes affects their capacity to transmit malaria parasites.

O’Donnell A.J., Mideo N. and Reece S.E. (2013) Disrupting rhythms in Plasmodium chabaudi: costs accrue quickly and independently of how infections are initiated. Malaria Journal, 12:372. doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-372.

Asks whether parasites matched to the hosts circadian rhythm are better able to establish infections than mismatched parasites

A correction has been published for this article: O’Donnell A.J., Mideo N. and Reece S.E. (2014) Correction: Disrupting rhythms in Plasmodium chabaudi: costs accrue quickly and independently of how infections are initiated. Malaria Journal, 13:503. doi:10.1186/1475-2875-13-503.

Schneider P., Bell A.S., Sim D.G., O'Donnell A.J., Blanford S., Paaijmans K.P., Read A.F. and Reece S.E. (2012) Virulence, drug sensitivity and transmission success in the rodent malaria, Plasmodium chabaudi. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B. doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.1792.

Drug treatment selects for the evolution of more harmful parasite strains.

Staszewski V., Reece S.E., O'Donnell A.J. and Cunningham E.J.A. (2012) Drug treatment of malaria infections can reduce levels of protection transferred to offspring via maternal immunity. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B online February 22. doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.156.        *equal contributions

Shows that giving antimalarial drugs to pregnant mice can make their offspring more vulnerable to malaria than if mothers are untreated.

O'Donnell A.J., Schneider P., McWatters H.G. and Reece S.E. (2011) The fitness costs of disrupting circadian rhythms in malaria parasites. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2457
                   Research highlight microbiology (Nature)

Reveals that malaria parasites suffer reduced replication in the host and lower transmission to mosquitoes when their development rhythm is mismatched to the circadian rhythm of the host.

Media Attention:
O'Donnell A.J., Schneider P., McWatters H.G. and Reece S.E. (2011) The fitness costs of disrupting circadian rhythms in malaria parasites. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2457

Faculty of 1000 Post Publication Peer Review (Patrick Duffy) 8 Feb 2011
Research highlight Nature 13 Jan 2011 The Scotsman Jan 7 2011
TIME Newsfeed Jan 7 2011
Metro Jan 7 2011
Herald Jan 7 2011
Yorkshire Post Jan 7 2011
The Times of India Jan 7 2011
Sydsvenskan (Sweden) Jan 7 2011
The Press Association Jan 6 2011
BBC News Jan 6 2011
The Scientist Jan 5 2011
Science.ORF.AT (Austria) Jan 5 2011
Handelsblatt (Germany) Jan 5 2011
Speigel Online (Germany) Jan 5 2011
Sueddeutsche (Germany) Jan 5 2011
Spektrumdirekt (German) Jan 5 2011
Dnews (Germany) Jan 5 2011
Diario Digital Nuestro País (Costa Rica) Jan 6 2011
Ask Science Dude Podcast (mp3)
EuSci Podcast (itunes)

Positions

2008 - Present
Currently employed as a Research Assistant assisting with research into the evolutionary ecology of Malaria.

2007 - 2008
Research technician with Landcare Research involved with a bioprospecting project, collecting and extracting fungal cultures from native forests as well as a large scale fungal population experiment.

2006 - 2007
Ecologist with Oratia Native Plants assisting with a Volcanic cones revegetation project using native grasses.

2006 - 2006
Junior Ecologist for Aranovus Limited involved working on wetland and forest restoration in Auckland..

2003 - 2005
M.Sc. Thesis, Major in Biological Sciences (Ecology): School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand. The impacts of habitat disturbance on invertebrate and lizard fauna within an agricultural setting

2000 - 2002
B.Sc. Major in Biological Science: School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand