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Giardia duodenalis: Master or Bachelor Thesis in unit 16, Team Giardia

Giardia duodenalis represents a group of medically important protozoan parasites that are a major cause of gastroenteritis worldwide. The proliferating form of the parasite (trophozoites) resides extracellularly in the upper small intestine in intimate contact with the intestinal epithelium and is responsible for the pathophysiology of the disease (called giardiasis). Infections are established by oral ingestion of the dauer form of the parasite (cysts) mainly with contaminated water or food.

Topic 1: Host-Parasite interaction during Giardia duodenalis infections

The reasons for the pathophysiology of giardiasis are multifactorial and the underlying disease mechanisms are greatly unknown. Our group aims to better understand the processes of host parasite interaction in the gut to unravel disease related mechanisms and factors. We have therefore adapted a stem cell based intestinal organoid model that allows us to investigate these processes in real time in vitro under near native conditions. One focus using this model is to unravel the role of specific signaling cascades (e.g. NfkB, MAPK) in the intestinal epithelium during Giardia infections. For these projects we use mainly dedicated cell culture methods and state-of-the-art molecular biological and microscopic tools. In this project we also generate transgenic parasites as a tool to investigate the biology of the parasite in more detail.

Topic 2: Generation of a Giardia duodenalis Biobank for functional epidemiology

Giardia infections in humans are caused by two different ‘genotypes’ with many ‘sub-genotypes’ that express different virulence factors that possibly determine the outcome of the disease in individual hosts. To be able to correlate specific parasite factors with virulence we started a long term project to generate a Giardia biobank collection of in vitro-culturable Giardia strains circulating in the population. These strains are genetically typed and characterized based on their drug susceptibility and growths behavior in vitro. In addition we analyze heterogeneity of potential virulence factors on a molecular level to determine their biological function. Here, we use mainly cell culture methods and genetic and molecular epidemiological tools for our analysis.

We are looking for a candidate who is highly interested to actively participate in the progress of the project, a process that requires the development of new strategies as well as the optimization of existing protocols. In addition, the successful candidate should demonstrate effective organizational skills, which are fundamental attributes to work independently and regularly present the results in group meetings.

Applications and further inquiries should be directed to:

Dr. Christian Klotz
FG16 Mycotic and Parasitic Agents and Mycobacteria
Email: contact
Phone: 030 18754 2514

Date: 12.04.2021