Parastrongyloides trichosuri, a nematode parasite of the brush-tailed possum and sugar gliders, has the unusual characteristic of possessing both parasitic and non-parasitic free-living life cycles. The choice between the alternative life cycles is determined at the first larval stage by environmental conditions such as crowding or nutrient availability. Free-living adult worms live only a few days while parasitic adult worms can live at least several months. Because of these unique characteristics, P. trichosuri has excellent potential as a model for the discovery and characterization of genes required for parasitism and those responsible for longevity (gerontogenes). This potential is greatly enhanced by the development of a variety of useful methods by our collaborators at AgResearch in New Zealand and La Trobe University in Australia (led by Dr. Warwick Grant). For example, the Molecular Helminthology Laboratory has developed methods for:
- The indefinite maintenance of P. trichosuri as a free-living nematode on agar dishes.
- Genetic mapping.
- Heritable transformation of a transgene.
The lab is seeking funding to work with our collaborators to further develop this model for studies on parasitism genes and gerontogenes.
For more information about the Molecular Helminthology Laboratory's research with this model species please see the Nematode Publications page.