PhD in parasite-host coevolution (UK) ~

26 de abril de 2013

PhD in parasite-host coevolution (UK)

A PhD studentship titled "Understanding host defense and parasite
offense: the coevolution of circadian rhythms" is available to be
jointly supervised by Sarah Reece and Nick Savill (Edinburgh; IEB
and IIIR).

Background: 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. For example, the developmental rhythm of many malaria
parasite species is coordinated; parasites invade host red blood cells,
replicate, and then release their progeny in a timed, synchronized
burst. 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. Rhythms in immune defence and
parasite development could provide an evolutionary advantage to hosts,
parasites or both, and both parties may to some extent control each
other’s rhythms [3]. This project will bridge this divide to
investigate the evolutionary ecology of biological rhythms in host-
parasite interactions.

The project will integrate the study of circadian rhythms, behavioural,
and mathematical biology to investigate the evolutionary ecology of
biological rhythms in host-parasite interactions. The project offers a
novel opportunity to combine experiments and theory by collecting data
from the lab [e.g. 1] and then using the data to undertake statistical
inference of disease processes [e.g. 4, 5]. The project will focus on an
established disease model (rodent malaria [e.g. 1,4-7]) and specific
topics that could form the focus of the PhD include:
(A) How are rhythms in parasite development initiated and maintained? Do
    parasites use their own time-keeping mechanisms to organise
    development or do they use cues from the host's circadian rhythms?
(B) How do rhythms affect the survival and transmission of parasites?
    Have parasites evolved time-keeping mechanisms to better exploit
    host resources or to evade immune killing?
(C) Are rhythms in parasite development and host immune responses
    adaptive for parasites, hosts, or neither?

We are looking for a highly motivated and exceptional candidate excited
about working at the boundary of scientific disciplines. You should
have, or expect to gain, a 1st or 2i degree classification in the life
sciences. The project will be co-supervised by Sarah Reece and Nick
Savill (Edinburgh) and is part of a larger project involving Nicole
Mideo (Penn State/Toronto) and Bert Maier (Charite, Berlin) that is
funded by a Human Frontiers of Science Project grant.

Closing date May 31st. Application instructions can be found here
(please note - fees are available for UK students only):

[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-

[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] Mideo, N., Reece, S.E., Smith, A. Metcalf, C.J.E. (2013) The
    Cinderella Syndrome: Why do malaria-infected cells burst at
    midnight? Trends in Parasitology, 29: 10-16.
[4] 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.

[5] Mideo N., Savill N.J., Chadwick W., Schneider P., Read A.F., Day T.
    & Reece S.E. (2011) Causes of variation in malaria infection
    dynamics: insights from theory and data. American Naturalist,
    178(6): E174-E188
[6] 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
[7] Schneider P., Bell A.S., Sim D.G., O’Donnell A.J., Blanford A.,
    Paaijmans K., Read A.F. & 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 279(1747): 4677-85.

Subject Area(s):



Molecular Biology
Zoology/Animal Science

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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