My research explores the evolutionary and ecological outcomes of host-pathogen interactions, both from the host and the pathogens points of view. I use molecular methods on wild host and pathogens in order to understand their evolutionary history and current population structures. One question that fascinates me is how complex parasite communities are influenced by the composition of the surrounding host species and vectors. I have further developed an in-vitro system for studies of functional genetic variation of immune genes by measuring pathogens inhibition under exposure of different synthesized peptide originating from genetic variation at immune genes.
I defended my PhD in December 2006 at the Department of Animal Ecology in Lund on the topic of Ecology and evolution of avian malaria and related blood parasites. After a post-doc session at The Edward Grey institute, Oxford University 2007-2009 founded by the Swedish research council I returned to the molecular ecology group. I am currently working as a researcher at Lund University on a return grant from the Swedish research council.
Hellgren O., Sheldon B. and Buckling A. 2010. In-vitro test of natural allelic variation of innate immune genes (avian β-defensins) show functional differences in microbial inhibition. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 23: 2726-2730. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02115.x)
Hellgren O., Peréz-Tris, J., and Bensch, S. 2009. A jack-of-all-trades and still a master of some: prevalence and host range in avian malaria and related blood parasites. Ecology 90: 2840-2849. (DOI: 10.1890/08-1059.1)
Hellgren O., Bensch S., and Malmqvist B. 2008. Birds, blood parasites and their vectors - associations uncovered by molecular analyses of blackfly blood meals. Molecular Ecology 17: 1605-1613. (DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2007.03680.x)