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Prof. Dr. Sven Klimpel

Markus Busch

Thomas Kuhn

Sebastian Emde

Raphael Frank

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Medical Biodiversity and Parasitology

Parasites are an integral part of every ecosystem. Nearly all organisms become parasitized during one or more life-cycle stages, and a co-existence of parasites and hosts has evolved independently in nearly every animal phylum. The parasitic way of life is highly successful and there are probably more parasitic than non-parasitic organisms in the world.
Our research is focused on the biodiversity of parasites and pathogens, particularly parasites in wild and domestic animals (e.g. dogs, cattle, pigs, rodents, fish), life cycles and transfer mechanism of parasites, as well as zoonotic parasites and their impact on human health. More than 250 zoonoses have been described worldwide, caused by a wide variety of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Due to climate change it is believed that the parasite fauna of these animals will undergo major changes too. Additionally, changing ecological conditions favor the introduction and distribution of invasive species. These invaders and also their parasites may lead to dramatic changes of the local biodiversity.
In our lab we combine traditional with up to date molecular techniques. Parasites will be identified by morphology as well as sequencing genetic markers. The ongoing genetic/genomic progress allows us to characterize critical genetic polymorphisms underlying phenotypic change even in non-model organisms. The genetic work is deeply grounded in population biology and ecology as major determinants of how selection operates in the wild. Stomach content analysis of the hosts show possible transfer mechanism and help to elucidate parasite life cycles and trophical interactions. This information will be verified in transmission experiments.