I am investigating how and why malaria parasites show daily developmental rhythms inside their hosts. I want to know whether parasites use host rhythms to tell the time.
Food availability, predator avoidance, mating success: coordinating behaviours to the correct time of day gives creatures an evolutionary advantage. There is rhythmicity inside organisms, for example changes in immunity, temperature, metabolism and oxidative stress. To a parasite inside a host these environmental pressures are likely to be important.
Malaria parasites living inside mammalian hosts burst out of their red blood cells all together (synchronous) at the same time of day (timed). When this is perturbed and bursting is made to happen at the wrong time of day, parasites suffer a fitness cost. This suggests synchrony and timing with the host is crucial for parasites. My PhD project looks at how and why this might be.
Understanding more about parasite rhythms may lead to novel drug targets and could help manage current disease interventions, by applying timed drug treatment regimens.
(click headings to expand details)
2012 – 2013
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, MSc Medical Parasitology
Project: Methods of detecting Plasmodium knowlesi in long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Peninsular Malaysia using molecular and serological techniques. Supervisor: Dr Chris Drakeley
Bangor University, BSc Zoology (1st)
Project: Virulence markers of the intracellular protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii and their use as prognostic indicators. Supervisor: Dr Henk Braig