Infectious agents and their host organisms have engaged in a desperate battle over the millennia to evolve strategies that enable continued survival of their respective species. Parasitic organisms require some key metabolites or environmental locations to be supplied by the hosts to successfully complete processes of metabolism, differentiation and reproduction that often results in damage to host. On the other hand host organisms attempt to limit or prevent this damage by several mechanisms, including innate and acquired immunity. This hostparasite co-evolution provides an excellent opportunity to study behavior, ecology and evolutionary interactions.
I have a very broad interest in ecology, immunology and hostparasite co-evolution. Using recent molecular techniques I am investigating the host and parasite ecology and their evolutionary interactions in a wild population of great reed warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus. Great reed warbler is a long distance migrating bird, wintering in tropical Africa and breeding in Europe, which have been monitored since 1983 at Lake Kvismaren (South central Sweden). Currently I am focused on how parasites affect the host life history decisions and how host defend against parasites. How immune system works against parasites and how parasites undergo antigenic switching to evade a developing antibody response.
Migratory birds face more diverse challenges than the resident birds, especially those wintering in parasite rich tropical areas. These migrants become infected with malaria and often get mixed infections which could be more detrimental for the host. I am investigating the risk of getting single and mixed infections and their effects on migratory performances in wild population of great reed warblers.
Main advisor: Staffan Bensch
Assistant advisor: Dennis Hasselquist