Malaria, Mosquitoes and Man

oocyst of Plasmodium yoelii nigerienses Within CAEP, the Malaria, Mosquitoes and Man group has been established to foster and strengthen collaborations between seven research laboratories with synergetic interests in Anopheles gambiae, Plasmodium falciparum and their interactions. These laboratories bring together expertise in insect physiology, fitness costs and parasite transmission, and the development of Plasmodium sporogonic stages (Prof. Hilary Hurd); mosquito transgenesis, immunity and genetic driver systems (Prof. Paul Eggleston); molecular ecology and population genomics of A. gambiae (Dr Frédéric Tripet); and  molecular biology of mosquito olfaction (Dr Julien Pelletier).  Focussing on P. falciparum, we have expertise in molecular biology and gene expression analyses (Dr Paul Horrocks); molecular genetics to investigate parasite virulence and mechanisms of antigenic variation (Dr Catherine Merrick); and molecular and cellular consequences of P. falciparum sequestration on human cells (Dr Srabasti Chakravorty).

    The Malaria, Mosquitoes and Man group is interested in both transmission and pathogenesis of malaria. This includes all aspects of modern vector control, from discovering genes for refractoriness to P. falciparum in A. gambiae, to engineering mosquitoes to no longer transmit malaria, to studying the ecology and population genetics of target populations and to understanding olfactory-driven mosquito behaviours. It extends to identifying new drug targets in P. falciparum, understanding P. falciparum virulence genes and gene expression within red blood cells, and studying the post-adhesive effects of Plasmodium-infected Anopheles stephensi line 1 pupa (3xP3:ECFP) cells on the human vascular endothelium. Much of this work has the ultimate goal of potentially identifying new malaria treatments.

    We have excellent facilities within CAEP that include a newly refurbished suite of laboratories and a suite of 7 insectaries. Facilities include bio-safety-level-3 rooms for culture of human malaria parasites and human vascular cells, as well as for mosquito infections. This makes Keele one of a handful of UK Institutions capable of undertaking research that bridges both the sexual and asexual stages of the malaria parasite, with a view to a better understanding of all aspects of malaria. We also have dedicated facilities for scanning and transmission electron microscopy, real-time quantitative PCR and fluorescence imaging, mass spectrometry and microarray analysis. In addition to high quality local facilities, the group also benefits from a network of collaborators in Africa that enables us to co-ordinate laboratory-based and field-based studies. We encourage strong candidates with an interest in one or more of those fields to man at fume hood apply to our PhD program. Applicants may also be interested in joining our Msc in Molecular Parasitology and Vector Biology organized jointly with the University of Salford.

Photographs Top: Scanning electron micrograph of an oocyst of Plasmodium yoelii nigerienses on the midgut wall of Anopheles stephensi (Hilary Hurd)

Middle - Anopheles stephensi line 1 pupa (3xP3:ECFP) (Paul Eggleston)

Bottom: Bio-safety-level 3 Plasmodium falciparum culture room A