Making it through the life cycle: motility for pathogenicity in Leishmania parasites

Year of award: 2018


  • Dr Richard Wheeler

    University of Oxford

Project summary

Leishmania parasites are single-cell microbes which cause a major human disease Leishmaniasis. In tropical environments, they are the most deadly eukaryotic microbe after Plasmodium which causes malaria. It is important for leishmania to be able to find an environment in a person's body where they thrive, or to navigate through the organs of the sandfly which transmits the disease to humans. However, we do not know precisely how and why they move, and what chemical or physical cues guide their direction.

I will discover the internal processes which control how Leishmania swim and use this to learn which signals from the cell's surroundings are important for directing them through the sandfly or finding cells to infect.

My findings will show how Leishmania movement is important for the transmission of disease.