ITM 54th Annual Colloquium

Theme 4:

Adaptation of pathogens to invertebrate hosts

Dr. M Benjamin Gourbal

Compatibility polymorphism in snail/schistosome interactions: an example of molecular co-evolution

Benjamin Gourbal obtained a PhD in Parasitology from the University of Montpellier. He performed post-doctoral studies at the Infectious Disease Research Center, Laval University, Quebec on Leishmania antimony resistance and joined the Ecology and Evolution of interactions group at Perpignan University as associate professor.

He works on co-evolution between hosts and parasites and pays a particular attention on the impact of reciprocal selective pressures on the molecular determinants influencing parasitic virulence and host resistance in a model involving the mollusc, Biomphalaria glabrata, and its trematode parasite, Schistosoma mansoni. Co-evolutionary processes in snail-schistosome compatibility probably occur through a combination of reciprocal adaptation in immune recognition or immune effector pathways.

Picture of Benjamin Gourbal

Dr. Shaden Kamhawi

Determinants of vector competence of sand flies for Leishmania parasites.

Dr. Kamhawi obtained her PhD in medical entomology from Salford University, England in 1990. She returned to Jordan to work on leishmaniasis at the Department of Biological Sciences, Yarmouk Univeristy as an assistant then associate professor. In 1997, Dr. Kamhawi joined the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases at the National Institutes of Health as a visiting associate then staff scientist. She worked on vector-parasite-host interactions and Leishmania transmission. She is presently a core staff scientist at the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research working on Leishmania-midgut interactions and the development of vector-based Leishmania vaccines. She has also established programs to study the epidemiology of leishmaniasis in Mali and the Republic of Georgia.

Dr. Kamhawi’s talk will focus on the interaction of Leishmania with midgut molecules and the potential of metacyclic-associated transcripts as markers of vector competence. She will also address the prospects of sand fly-based Leishmania vaccines.

Picture of Shaden Kamhawi

Prof. Isabel Roditi

Trypanosome-tsetse interactions: the hazardous journey

Isabel Roditi started working on trypanosomes as a postdoc at the MRC Biochemical Parasitology Unit in Cambridge, where she accidentally discovered the gene encoding a major coat protein of procyclic forms of Trypanosoma brucei in what was supposed to be a negative control.

After four years at the Institute of Genetics in Karlsruhe she moved to the University of Bern, where she has been ever since. Her group specialises in the regulation and function of trypanosome surface proteins in their insect host.

She will talk about the challenges of these in vivo studies and present data linking the newly described phenomenon of social motility with the ability of trypanosomes to be transmitted by tsetse.

Picture of Isabel Roditi

Dr. Didier Fontenille

What makes a mosquito a vector?

Didier FONTENILLE is a medical entomologist. He obtained a PhD in vector biology from the EPHE University at Montpellier.

After 17 years working on malaria and arboviruses vector biology, genetics and control in Africa (Madagascar, Senegal, Cameroon), he is now the director of the CNRS-IRD-Montpellier University Research Unit MIVEGEC, IRD, Montpellier, France (165 scientists in 11 countries), and the director of the CNEV (French national reference center on Vectors), France.

He has been the initiator and coordinator of several research projects and networks, mainly in Africa and Europe.

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Dr. Guy Caljon

Modification of the vector feeding physiology as a pathogen's survival strategy

Guy Caljon obtained a master degree in molecular biology and a PhD from Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB, Belgium). During his first postdoctoral period at VUB, he evaluated the diagnostic and therapeutic potential of Nanobodies against African trypanosomes.

Since 2008, his postdoctoral research in the Veterinary Protozoology unit at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (Belgium) focuses on the tsetse fly salivary gland as a niche for the differentiation of trypanosomes into vertebrate infective forms.

His research aims at understanding the physiological and immunological implications of salivary components in parasite development in the fly and transmission to the mammalian host.

Picture of Guy Caljon