Schistosomes are parasitic flatworms that perform dramatic migrations over the course of their complicated life cycle. The main parasite of interest in our lab is Schistosoma mansoni, a flatworm that passes through aquatic snails and infects people who venture into contaminated waterways. The fundamental question that we seek to answer is: how exactly do worms find and infect their intermediate (snails) and definitive (humans) hosts?
We use a combination of molecular biology, bioinformatics, and custom advanced imaging platforms to answer this question. We also incorporate free living model organisms to better understand the neurobiology of the flatworm phylum as a whole. We are funded by a variety of local and federal sources and have active collaborations throughout the world.
Making sense of sensory behaviors in vector-borne helminths
Author links open overlay panel Nicolas J. Wheeler 1 Elissa A. Hallem 2 Mostafa Zamanian Person 1 Envelope Show more Migrations performed by are impressive and diverse, and accumulating evidence shows that many are controlled by sophisticated sensory programs. The migrations of vector-borne helminths are particularly complex, requiring precise, stage-specific regulation.
Genetic and functional diversification of chemosensory pathway receptors in mosquito-borne filarial nematodes
Nematode parasites are a major cause of global human and animal morbidity, but the role of sensory behaviors in the complex life cycles of parasitic nematodes is not well understood. This study uncovers molecular determinants and pathways that control migratory behaviors in mosquito-transmitted filarial nematodes that cause lymphatic filariasis, a neglected tropical disease.