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Department of Parasitology

The Department of Parasitology is responsible for the Parasitology Master’s and Doctoral programmes. The research covers structural, ecological, biochemical, phylogenetic, and molecular aspects of parasite biology, and is focused on several dominant areas.


Homepage: http://kpa.prf.jcu.cz/
Head of the Department: Prof. Václav Hypša
Email: vacatko@paru.cas.cz

Research and education activities

Molecular phylogenetics, genomics and evolution of parasites

Phylogenetic relationships and population structure are studied using molecular data within various types of parasitic and symbiotic associations. Based on the results of phylogenetic analyzes, various questions of evolutionary parasitology are addressed, such as the role of geography and host specificity in parasite population structure, and coevolutionary patterns between the host and the parasite. The main model system include mice of the genus Apodemus and their endoparasites (Eimeria) and ectoparasites (lice of the genus Polyplax). We also focus on genomics and evolutionary significance of intracellular symbiotic bacteria in various groups of blood feeding insects.

Evolution of tick-pathogen interactions                              

We address four main areas of the research on ticks and tick-borne pathogens: (i) tick-pathogen interactions, (ii) tick-induced allergy (iii) ecology of ticks and tick-borne pathogens and (iv) tick epigenetics. Regarding the first topic, we use the tick-borne pathogen Anaplasma phagocytophilum as a model to study tick manipulation by pathogens. For this we use a System Biology approach that combines genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics to disentangle tick pathways affected by pathogen infection. Within the second area, we for example published the first report on the tick proteins that may be involved in tick-induced allergy, a growing health problem in Europe and USA. The third topic reflects our interest in the ecological dimension of tick-host-pathogen interactions. For this we use a combination of phylogenetic and network analysis. This year, we published our first results suggesting that Ixodes ricinus, the most important vector in Europe, evolved to maximize habitat overlap with some hosts that are super-spreaders of pathogens. Finally, our laboratory is developing a novel area of research within the tick community (i.e. Tick epigenetics) aimed at better understanding of the role of epigenetics on tick biology and tick-pathogen interactions.

Parasites of arctic animals

In cooperation with the Centre for polar ecology and foreign partners in Greenland and Iceland we study intestinal parasites of Polar bears (Ursus maritimus), Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) and introduced Sibling voles (Microtus levis) during our expeditions to Svalbard (Norway). We mainly focus on elucidation of life cycles: novel results have been obtained in Myxozoa infecting fish, life cycles of flukes of families Opecoelidae, Gymnophalidae and Haplorchidae and tapeworms of the orders Spathebothriidea and Diphylobothridea. For some parasite groups (nematodes, microsporidia and cryptosporidia) we investigate spatial distribution of their arctic haplotypes using molecular analyses.

Example of results

Publications:

CABEZAS-CRUZ A., ALBERDI P., VALDES J., VILLAR M. & DE LA FUENTE J. (2017): Anaplasma phagocytophilum Infection Subverts Carbohydrate Metabolic Pathways in the Tick Vector, Ixodes scapularis. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 7.

NOVAKOVA E., WOODHAMS D., RODRIGUEZ-RUANO S., BRUCKER R., LEFFJ., MAHARAJ A., AMIR A.,  KNIGHT R. & SCOTT J. (2017): Mosquito Microbiome Dynamics, a Background for Prevalence and Seasonality of West Nile Virus. Frontiers in Microbiology, 8.

NOVAKOVA E., HYPSA V., NGUYEN P., HUSNIK F. & DARBY A.C. (2016): Genome sequence of Candidatus Arsenophonus lipopteni, the exclusive symbiont of a blood sucking fly Lipoptena cervi (Diptera: Hippoboscidae). Standards in Genomic Sciences, 11.

TYML T., SKULINOVA K., KAVAN J., DITRICH O., KOSTKA M. & DYKOVA I. (2016): Heterolobosean amoebae from Arctic and Antarctic extremes: 18 novel strains of Allovahlkampfia, Vahlkampfia and Naegleria. European Journal of Protistology, 56, 119-133.

TYML T., KOSTKA M., DITRICH O. & DYKOVA I. (2016): Vermistella arctica n. sp Nominates the Genus Vermistella as a Candidate for Taxon with Bipolar Distribution. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, 63, 210-219.

DVORAKOVA N., KVICEROVA J., HOSTOVSKY M. & SIROKY P. (2015): Haemogregarines of freshwater turtles from Southeast Asia with a description of Haemogregarina sacaliae sp n. and a redescription of Haemogregarina pellegrini Laveran and Pettit, 1910. Parasitology, 142, 816-826.

NOVAKOVA, E., HUSNIK F., SOCHOVA E. & HYPSA V. (2015): Arsenophonus and Sodalis Symbionts in Louse Flies: an Analogy to the Wigglesworthia and Sodalis System in Tsetse Flies. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 81, 6189-6199.

 

Ph.D. theses:

SNEHA PATRA: Biology, life cycle and special molecular characteristics of myxozoans belonging to Sphaerospora sensu stricto clade.

MYSKOVA E.: Molecular epidemiology of intestinal parasites of Arctic foxes and Polar bears.

SOCHOVA E.: Dynamics and diversity of symbiotic relationships between insects and bacteria.

TYML T. (2016) Diversity, phylogeny and phylogeography of free-living amoebae.