Single-cell functional and population genomic analysis of Plasmodium knowlesi malaria parasites
The objectives of this project are:
- To analyse P. knowlesi by flow cytometric sorting from the blood of macaque and human fresh isolates and sequence from single cells and pools of individual sorted cells;
- To test a hypothesis of vector-specific susceptibility to the divergent P. knowlesi types; and
- To design genetic manipulation experiments to test for loci that are involved in host adaptation and potentially enhance reproductive isolation.
Genomic analyses of parasites can give insights into mechanisms of adaptation to different hosts. There are divergent genetic types of Plasmodium knowlesi infecting humans, now discovered to be associated with different macaque monkey reservoir host species. Sequence analysis reveals substantial genome-wide divergence between these types, although this is particularly high in some chromosomal regions.