PhD: The evolutionary ecology of biological rhythms in host-parasite interactions ~

10 de julio de 2012

PhD: The evolutionary ecology of biological rhythms in host-parasite interactions The discovery of biological rhythms, such as circadian rhythms, in parasite behaviours [1] and host immune responses [2] suggests that timing matters for how hosts and parasites interact with each other. However, to date, the study of parasite biological rhythms has rarely considered whether parasites are organising their own schedules or whether parasites are passive and scheduled by aspects of host physiology with circadian rhythms. Furthermore, the study of circadian immune responses has largely occurred without involving disease or links to parasite behaviours. This project will bridge this divide to investigate “what roles do the rhythms of hosts and parasites play in disease” and “what are the consequences for host-parasite co- evolution”? Specifically, the project will use an established disease model (rodent malaria [3-5]) to link parasite and host biological rhythms to ask the following questions: (a) What impact do circadian rhythms in immune factors have on protecting the host from disease? (b) How do host rhythms influence how successfully parasites exploit their hosts and transmit to new hosts? (c) Have parasites evolved time-keeping mechanisms to better exploit host resources or to evade immune killing? (d) Do the developmental schedules of parasites influence the outcome of competitive interactions between co-infecting parasites? This project will synergise several disciplines across biology including the systems biology of circadian rhythms, behavioural and evolutionary ecology, evolutionary immunology. The approach will begin by collecting data from conducting experiments in the lab [e.g. 1] to elucidate the daily schedules of host-parasite interactions during infection. Depending on the student’s interests, the project could develop into focusing on further experiments and/or could involve using computational biology to undertake statistical inference of disease processes [e.g. 6] to quantify the costs and benefits of rhythms to hosts and parasites, and investigate whether host rhythms drive the evolution of parasite rhythms and vice-versa. [1] O’Donnell A.J., Schneider P., McWatters H.G. & Reece S.E. (2011) Fitness costs of disrupting circadian rhythms in malaria parasites, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 278(171): 2429-2436 [2] Keller M., Mazuch J., Abraham U., Eom G.D., Herzog E.D., Volk H.D., Kramer A. & Maier B. (2009) A circadian clock in macrophages controls inflammatory immune responses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 106(50):21407-12. [3] Reece S.E., Ramiro R.S. & Nussey D.H.N. (2009) Plastic parasites: sophisticated strategies for survival and reproduction? Evolutionary Applications 2(1): 11-23 [4] Pollitt L.C., Mideo N., Drew D., Schneider P., Colegrave N. & Reece S.E. (2011) Competition and the evolution of reproductive restraint in malaria parasites. American Naturalist, 177(3): 358-367 [5] Mideo N. & Reece S.E. (2012) Plasticity in parasite phenotypes: evolutionary and ecological implications for disease. Future Microbiology 7(1): 17-24 [6] Miller M.R., Raberg L., Read A.F. & Savill N.J. (2010) Quantitative analysis of immune response and erythropoiesis during rodent malaria infection, PLoS Computational Biology, 6(9):e1000946. This opportunity is only open to UK nationals (or EU students who have been resident in the UK for 3+ years) due to restrictions imposed by the funding body. By 20th July interested individuals should send a pdf - one document of 3 pages which should include their CV (2 pages - include the email addresses of 2 academic referees) and a statement of research interests (1 page) directly to Dr Sarah Reece Centre for Immunity, Infection & Evolution. Institutes of Evolution, Immunology and Infection Research, School of Biological Sciences, Ashworth Laboratories, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JT Scotland, UK Tel +44 131 650 5547 Fax +44 131 650 6564

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