Seminar with Dr Sonja Rueckert (Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier University) and Matthew Dicker (MRes Student at Edinburgh Napier University) on parasites

Start date and time

Wednesday 4 December 2019


Edinburgh Napier University (Sighthill Campus)

Two talks, one topic: Parasites

Dr Sonja Rueckert: Gregarines: parasites, commensals or even mutualists?

The phylum Apicomplexa is known to contain only obligate parasites. Gregarine apicomplexans, seem to represent an important transition step from closely related free-living photosynthetic (e.g. Chromera, Vitrella), or predatory (e.g. Colpodella) lineages to obligate, intracellular parasites (e.g. Plasmodium, Toxoplasma). Even though they are always referred to as parasites, it is currently disputed what lifestyle the gregarines actually have due to their unique position within the apicomplexans. Sonja will raise the question, if they are all parasites, or maybe rather commensals or even mutualists.

Matthew Dicker (MRes student): The hidden links in trophic food webs – Where do the parasites fit?

Food webs are integral to our understanding of ecosystem structure and functioning. However, until relatively recently, food webs have excluded over half of all metazoan species; the parasites. Matthew’s talk will illustrate the unique roles of parasites in food webs and explore the first inclusion of parasites in a fully marine, non-littoral food web.

Dr Sonja Rueckert is Associate Professor in Marine Biology/Parasitology with a broad interest in parasites and in particular in parasites of marine organisms. Her research approach involves traditional morphological and modern molecular techniques to understand the biodiversity, ecology and evolutionary history of parasitic organisms.

Matthew Dicker is Sonja’s MRes student, co-supervised by Professor Mark Huxham and Dr Jennifer Dannheim from the Alfred-Wegener Institute, Germany unravelling the placements of metazoan parasites in food webs.