Periodic parasites and daily host rhythms

Kim Prior, Filipa Rijo-Ferreira, Patricia A. Assis, Isabella C. Hirako, David R. Weaver, Ricardo T. Gazzinelli, Sarah Reece

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Biological rhythms appear to be an elegant solution to the challenge of coordinating activities with the consequences of the Earth’s daily and seasonal rotation. The genes and molecular mechanisms underpinning circadian clocks in multicellular organisms are well understood. In contrast, the regulatory mechanisms and fitness consequences of biological rhythms exhibited by parasites remain mysterious. Here, we explore how periodicity in parasite traits is generated and why daily rhythms matter for parasite fitness. We focus on malaria (Plasmodium) parasites which exhibit developmental rhythms during replication in the mammalian host’s blood and in transmission to vectors. Rhythmic in-host parasite replication is responsible for eliciting inflammatory responses, the severity of disease symptoms, fuels transmission, and can confer tolerance to anti-parasite drugs. Thus, understanding both how and why the timing and synchrony of parasites are connected to the daily rhythms of hosts and vectors may make treatment more effective and less toxic to hosts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-187
Number of pages12
JournalCell Host & Microbe
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • circadian clock
  • circadian rhythm
  • plasmodium
  • intra-erythrocytic development cycle
  • synchronicity
  • periodicity
  • entrainment
  • fitness
  • host-parasite interactions
  • nutrient sensing
  • metabolism
  • inflammatory response


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