BioMalPar XV: Biology and Pathology of the Malaria Parasite


This year, I was honored to be asked to run a ‘Women In Malaria Research’ workshop alongside Dr Elena Gómez-Díaz at EMBL Heidelberg (Germany) for the 15th annual Biology and Pathology of the Malaria Parasite (‘BioMalPar’) conference. Each year at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)’s Heidelberg campus, approximately 200–300 scientific researchers come together to share their new data and discoveries regarding parasites of the Plasmodium genus, i.e., the parasite species (plural) that cause malaria in humans. Of course, this trip also gave me the perfect opportunity to live-tweet the entire event to those who couldn’t make it, and to provide a summary of the conference highlights here!

This year’s BioMalPar conference (28–30 May 2019) covered 3 days and was split into seven scientific sessions, with four optional workshops also included during the first 2 days. The scientific sessions were split as follows:

  •  Day 1: Scientific session one: Vector biology and transmission

             Scientific session two: BIG data and new tools

  • Day 2: Scientific session three: Development and differentiation

            Scientific session four: Drug development and resistance

            Scientific session five: Immunology and vaccine development

  • Day 3: Scientific session six: Cell and molecular biology

            Scientific session seven: Host–parasite interaction

 Although the workshops and poster sessions were also jam-packed with new data, novel ideas, and potential breakthroughs, I will focus on the main talks in this summary for the sake of brevity.

The 15th BioMalPar conference was opened by a keynote lecture from Harvard’s Flaminia Catteruccia (MA, USA), who began the ‘Vector biology and transmission’ session by asserting that vector control is the best way to tackle malaria transmission. In her talk, Prof Catteruccia discussed recent findings from her lab that determined the relationship between the steroid hormone, 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) (involved in Anopheles egg development), and the development of P. falciparum sexual stages within the mosquito midgut. Not only did she discuss these biological findings that suggest that the P. falciparum parasite has evolved a non-competitive evolutionary strategy to exploit nutrients from its female mosquito host; but she then followed this with an explanation of her game-changing paper from February that showed that Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, when exposed to the antimalarial atovaquone upon infection, cannot transmit P. falciparum. If this landmark finding holds true, then impregnating long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs) with an antimalarial drug such as atovaquone could prevent the spread of malaria by targeting the mosquito.

Prof Catteruccia’s keynote lecture was followed by three more impressive vector-focused talks from Dr Rikita Bishnoi (Temple University, PA, USA), Dr Elena Gómez-Díaz (IPBLN-CSIC, Granada, Spain), and Prof Justin Boddey (Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), Melbourne, Australia); all describing different facets of Anopheles mosquito biology, from the specificities of the mosquito immune response (Dr Bishnoi), through regulation of the mosquito genome (Dr Gómez-Díaz), to parasite molecular mechanisms that drive mosquito transmission (protein glycosylation) (Prof Boddey). And for those unaware, Prof Boddey is presently an organizer for the upcoming ‘Molecular Approaches to Malaria’ (MAM) 2020 conference. He also dropped a few hints about upcoming publications from his lab; so keep an eye out for “Jennison et al.” and “Lopaticki et al.” coming out of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute!

In the afternoon, the discussion moved to ‘BIG data and new tools’ in malaria research. This session began with a keynote lecture by eminent Plasmodium bioinformatician, Dr Thomas Otto (Wellcome Centre for Integrative Parasitology (WCIP), Glasgow, UK), on the progression (and limitations) of the canonical P. falciparum reference genome. Three more ‘BIG data’ talks followed Dr Otto’s impressive introduction. Dr Sudhir Kumar (Seattle Children’s Research Institute, WA, USA) discussed the identification of genetic loci associated with parasite fitness using experimental genetic crosses between P. falciparum lines and bulk segregant analysis of resultant whole genomes. Prof Peter Preiser (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) and Richard Thomson Luque (Heidelberg University) wrapped up the ‘BIG data’ session with large-scale proteomics and transcriptomics; with Richard Thomson Luque’s work from the lab of Dr Silvia Portugal to be published in future.

Some intriguing ‘New tools’ for Plasmodium research marked the end of session two. Both talks, from Mélanie Pellisson of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Geneva, Switzerland), and Dr Alena Pance of the Wellcome Sanger Institute (Cambridge, UK), discussed the development of stem cell-based strategies to tackle long-held questions in malaria research. Mélanie Pellisson showed novel data from her work in characterizing monkey iPS-derived hepatocytes, and their potential as a tool to study P. cynomolgi hypnozoite development in vitro. In Dr Alena Pance’s case, host-derived stem cells provide a novel avenue by which the host immune response to a Plasmodium infection can be studied, with Dr Pance even discussing iPS cells reprogrammed from alpha thalassemia patients! Both of these final talks were unpublished and I am sure that I wasn’t the only person in the conference room looking forward to seeing these results when they finally come out!

As is tradition, day one of BioMalPar ended with the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award; each year granted to a scientist whose research has substantially impacted or changed the face of malaria research. Past winners include Hagai Ginsburg, Victor and Ruth Nussenzweig, and Richard Carter; all giants in the Plasmodium field. This year’s winner was a pioneer in the study of both antigenic variation and genomics in the malaria parasite: Prof Chris Newbold (University of Oxford, UK). This year’s BioMalPar attendants were treated to a video presentation by Oxford’s Prof Kevin Marsh, who gave a timeline of Prof Newbold’s work, firstly at the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) at Mill Hill in London (UK), and later to become the University of Oxford’s Head of Molecular Parasitology, helping to establish the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kenya along the way. Prof Newbold was a key figure in the generation of the Plasmodium falciparum genome sequence, as Prof Marsh said, bringing together a “Bioinformatics Dream Team” that included both Dr Thomas Otto and Dr Ulrike Böhme from the Wellcome Sanger Institute (who still continue to curate, annotate, and improve the Plasmodium genome sequences at PlasmoDB!). Prior to a talk by Prof Newbold himself about his lab’s current work in the investigation of multi-gene families that contribute to pathogenesis in Plasmodium infections, a quote was provided by Prof Marsh from a past member of Prof Newbold’s lab. This quote, and a link to a webpage about Chris Newbold’s continued work in malaria, are provided below.

Images of the BioMalPar Conference 2019

A resounding round of applause followed Prof Chris Newbold’s Lifetime Achievement Award lecture, in which he discussed his continued work in determining how multi-gene families (such as the Plasmodium var and pir gene families) mediate parasite virulence, and how the human immune response is elicited upon variation in the resultant parasite proteins and epitopes. A link to publications from the Newbold Lab is provided below.

Day two of BioMalPar 2019 started with a scientific session on ’Development and differentiation’. This session focused on the sexual development of the Plasmodium parasite in the human host before transmission to a mosquito, i.e., gametocytogenesis. The production of Plasmodium gametocytes is a potentially targetable bottleneck in Plasmodium life-cycle progression. A leader in this field, Prof Matt Marti of WCIP, opened this session with a comprehensive discussion of his lab’s work. Prof Marti’s group has provided insights into the localization (or ‘sequestration’) of Plasmodium gametocytes in human bone marrow red blood cell precursors and the spleen; the role of the host-derived lipid lysophosphatidylcholine (LysoPC) in differentiation of asexual parasites to gametocytes; and the naturally acquired host immune response to gametocytes. Prof Marti’s talk was followed by four more talks that focused on specific molecular mechanisms or factors that demonstrated a role in gametocyte differentiation (look out for a future paper on a Plasmodium “protein acting as a parasite load regulator (PARLOR)” from Alexander Maier of the Australian National University (ANU) and work from Kirchner et al. at the Wellcome Centre in Glasgow!).

Scientific sessions five and six of BioMalPar 2019 centered around attempts to target the parasite with either drugs (session five) or vaccines (session six), alongside explanations of the parasites’ corresponding attempts to thwart these efforts. Prof Leann Tilley of the University of Melbourne awed the crowd with the newly published crystal structure of the P. falciparum PA28-20S proteasome complex, part of her lab’s work to target parasite proteostasis for antimalarial production. Recent work from Catherine Lavazec, Dina Coertzen, and Anja Schlott followed this keynote lecture, with Sabine Schmidt of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM; Hamburg, Germany) showing some as-yet-unpublished work regarding the Kelch13-mediated mechanisms of malaria resistance to artemisinin (so keep an eye out for this research in future!).

Images of the BioMalPar Conference 2019 Beginning the ‘Immunology and vaccine development’ session was Prof Eleanor Riley, current Director of the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh (UK). Prof Riley provided an enlightening talk that addressed both the human immune response to infection with Plasmodium (with a particular focus on the neutrophil response), and the phenomenon of asymptomatic (subpatent) P. falciparum infections. A link to a recent publication regarding the temporal dynamics and infectiousness of these subpatent infections from the Riley Lab is provided below. The final four talks of this session provided insights into B-cell subset and antibody responses to Plasmodium infection. Timon Damelang, a PhD student in the lab of Prof Stephen Kent at the University of Melbourne, gave the crowd a taster of his yet-to-be-published research into functional antibodies in the protection of pregnant women from malaria. So, more to come from this lab!

The final day of BioMalPar 2019 began with a session of “Cell and molecular biology”, with the first keynote lecture of the day provided by Prof Wai-Hong Tham of WEHI in Australia. Prof Tham gave the first full-length talk regarding P. vivax, discussing her work in characterizing the P. vivax-specific invasion complex formed by P. vivax reticulocyte-binding protein 2b (PvRBP2b) and the human transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1). Prof Tham discussed the potential of these discoveries in informing future P. vivax vaccine candidates and alluded to further work regarding the binding and invasion mechanisms of P. vivax. From this P. vivax work followed six more talks regarding cell and molecular biology findings, largely in P. falciparum. Elisabet Tintó of the Cortés Lab at ISGlobal in Spain introduced a new member of the AP2 transcription factor family by showing some of her unpublished research into AP2-HS, a heat shock response protein in Plasmodium parasites. Publications discussed during talks by Dr Sujaan Das (Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany), Dr Edgar Deu (Francis Crick Institute, London, UK), Dr Yuneun Avalos Padilla (Max Plank Institute, Germany), Prof Rita Tewari (University of Nottingham, UK), and Dr Konstantinos Kousis (Francis Crick Institute) are listed below.

For the final BioMalPar 2019 scientific session entitled “Host–pathogen interactions”, Prof Stefan Kappe of the University of Washington (WA, USA) discusses the study of the pre-erythrocytic stages of the malaria parasite, namely, the sporozoite and exo-erythrocytic forms (EEFs) in the host liver. Prof Kappe champions the development of whole sporozoite vaccines, particularly the production of genetically attenuated, replication-competent vaccine strains that, experimentally, appear to elicit superior immunity to malaria infection. By targeting the parasite stages prior to replication within host red blood cells, Prof Kappe aims to arrest the Plasmodium lifecycle before a symptomatic disease develops. In a similar vein, Dr Gavin Wright of the Wellcome Sanger Institute followed with a talk detailing another potential vaccine candidate: targeting the (species-specific) Plasmodium Reticulocyte-binding protein Homolog 5 (RH5) which attaches to the host red blood cell basigin glycoprotein, facilitating parasite invasion into the cell. Again, preventing this interaction from occurring would stop the parasite from progressing to a symptomatic intra-erythrocytic infection. Together, these two talks provided a fascinating insight into ongoing studies of two promising malaria vaccine candidates.

Wrapping up the conference were three talks about novel, mostly unpublished, research describing the role of host microbiota in Plasmodium parasite growth and development (Debanjan Mukherjee of the Mota Lab, Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Lisbon, Portugal); var gene expression in malaria-naïve patients infected with two separate P. falciparum strains (Jan Stephan Wichers of the Gilberger Lab at BNITM); and new tools for genome editing in P. knowlesi (presented by Melissa Hart of the Moon Lab at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM; UK)). It will be exciting to see the publication of many of these results at future BioMalPar conferences!

To end our EMBL Heidelberg trip with more food for thought, Prof Gary Ward of the University of Vermont (VT, USA) delivered a final plenary session regarding academic publishing and the road to open access journals in science. Though I am staunchly in favor of open access publishing, I learned a lot more about the movement within academia from Prof Ward at BioMalPar 2019. For everyone’s reference, I have included a link to the ‘Plan S’ open access initiative below, something that I was unaware of before this conference. I have also included a link to the ‘Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)’ website, a list of recommendations about how the output from scientific research across different fields should be assessed by funding agencies, universities, among others. This final session assured that, at the end of BioMalPar 2019, I left Heidelberg with much more knowledge about my chosen field of research than I had arrived with.

Though much longer than I intended (sounds just like my PhD thesis!), this summary only touches on the wealth of outstanding research into malaria that is currently being carried out worldwide, and doesn’t do justice to the dozens of fantastic posters that were also presented this year. If you want to be a part of next year’s BioMalPar at EMBL Heidelberg, the abstract deadline is February 2020! So get science-ing and a link to the BioMalPar 2020 page is right here:

Useful links:

  1. More about the laboratory of Dr Gómez-Díaz at
  2. BioMalPar 2020 website:
  3. Webpage for Prof Chris Newbold’s group at the University of Oxford:
  4. Newbold Group publication link:
  5. “Plan S” Open Access website link:
  6. Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) website:

Scientific session 1: Vector Biology and Transmission

  1.  Flaminia Catteruccia, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, USA

Title: The complexity of Anopheles-Plasmodium interactions (and a novel strategy to block them).

  •  Werling K et al. Steroid hormone function controls non-competitive Plasmodium development in Anopheles. Cell, 177(2), 315–325 (2019) (at
  • Paton, D.G. et al. (2019) ‘Exposing Anopheles mosquitoes to antimalarials blocks Plasmodium parasite transmission’, Nature, 567: 239-243 (at
  1. Ritika Bishnoi, The Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, USA

Title: Conserved heterodimeric structure & glycan specificity of C-type lectins Anopheles gambiae CTLMA2 and CTL4.

  • Bishnoi R et al. C-type lectins CTL4 and CTLMA2: conserved heterodimeric structure and glycan specificity in Anopheles mosquitoes (2019) BioRxiv, doi:1101/565705
  1. Elena Gómez-Díaz, Spanish National Research Council, Spain

Title: The regulatory genome of the human malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae: an integrated analysis of chromatin accessibility and transcription.

  • Ruiz JL et al. Chromatin changes in Anopheles gambiae induced by Plasmodium falciparum Epigenetics and Chromatin, 12(5), doi:10.1186/s13072-018-0250-9 (2019)
  1. Justin Boddey, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Australia

Title: Glycosylation of Plasmodium falciparum thrombospondin repeats drives mosquito transmission and sporozoite virulence.

  • Goddard-Borger ED & Boddey JA. Implications of Plasmodium glycosylation on vaccine efficacy and design, Future Microbiology, 13(6) doi:2217/fmb-2017-0284 (2018)

Scientific session 2: BIG Data and New Tools

  1. Thomas Otto, University of Glasgow, UK

Title: The excitement and limitation of a reference genome.

  • Böhme U et al. Progression of the canonical reference malaria parasite genome from 2002–2019. Wellcome Open Research, 4(58) doi:10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15194.2 (2019) (at
  1. Sudhir Kumar, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, USA

Title: Using experimental genetic crosses and bulk segregant analysis to investigate Plasmodium falciparum fitness determinants throughout the life cycle.

  • Li X et al. Genetic mapping of fitness determinants across the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum life cycle. BioRxiv; doi:1101/570085 (2019)
  1. Peter Preiser, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Title: Comparative mapping of Plasmodium proteomes provides new insights into erythrocyte remodelling.

  • Siau A et al. Proteome mapping of Plasmodium: identification of the yoelii remodellome. Scientific Reports, 6(31055) doi:10.1038/srep31055 (at (2016)
  1. Richard Thomson Luque, Heidelberg Clinical Hospital, Germany

Title: Decoding a riddle: Plasmodium falciparum long dry season pilgrimage.

  • This work is to-be-published. However, the clinical samples from Mali were used for a different reason in this paper: Portugal, S. ‘Treatment of chronic asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum infection does not increase the risk of clinical malaria upon reinfection.’, Clinical Infectious Diseases, 64(5) 645–653 (2017) (at
  1. Mélanie Pellisson, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Switzerland

Title: IPS cell technology: A great tool to study hypnozoites and pave the road towards malaria elimination.

  • To-be-published.
  1. Alena Pance, The Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK

Title: Stem cells as a tool to study malaria: the host side of the infection.

  • To-be-published.

Scientific session 3: Development and Differentiation

  1. Matthias Marti, University of Glasgow, UK

Title: Plasmodium gametocyte development: insights from human infection and animal models.

  • Joice R et al. Plasmodium falciparum transmission stages accumulate in the human bone marrow. Science Translational Medicine, 6(244) doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3008882 (2014) (at
  • Usui M et al. Plasmodium falciparum sexual differentiation in malaria patients is associated with host factors and GDV1-dependent genes. Nature Communications, 10(2140) doi:10.1038/s41467-019-10172-6 (2019) (at
  • De Niz M et al. Plasmodium gametocytes display homing and vascular transmigration in the host bone marrow. Science Advances, 4(5) doi:10.1126/sciadv.aat3775 (2018) (at
  • Ngotho P et al. Revisiting gametocyte biology in malaria parasites. FEMS Microbiology Reviews; doi:1093/femsre/fuz010 (2019)
  • Dantzler KW et al. Naturally acquired immunity against immature Plasmodium falciparum Science Translational Medicine, 11(495); doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aav3963 (2019) (at
  1. Gabriele Pradel, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

Title: The patatin-like phospholipase PNPLA1 is crucial for gametocyte induction in the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

  • Flammersfeld A et al. A palatin-like phospholipase is crucial for gametocyte induction in the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. BioRxiv; doi:1101/699363 (2019)
  1. Alexander G. Maier, The Australian National University Canberra, Australia

Title: A parasite load regulator important for virulence and transmission of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

  • To-be-published.
  1. Gaëlle Neveu, INSERM, France

Title: Plasmodium falciparum immature gametocytes development in human primary erythroblasts.

  • Neveu G et al. Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte-infected erythrocytes do not adhere to human primary erythroblasts. Scientific Reports, 8(17886) doi:10.1038/s41598-018-36148-y (at (2018)
  1. Sebastian Kirchner, University of Glasgow, UK

Title: A histone-lysine N-methyltransferase is required for efficient development of Plasmodium in the mosquito vector.

  • To-be-published.

Scientific session 4: Drug Development and Resistance

  1. Leann Tilley, The University of Melbourne, Australia

Title: Targetting proteostasis for antimalarial drug development.

  • Xie SC et al. The structure of the PA28–20S proteasome complex from Plasmodium falciparum and implications for proteostasis. Nature Microbiology; doi:1038/s41564-019-0524-4 (2019)
  • Bridgeford JL et al. Artemisinin kills malaria parasites by damaging proteins and inhibiting the proteasome. Nature Communications, 9(3801) doi:10.1038/s41467-018-06221-1 (2018) (at
  • Xie SC et al. Target validation and identification of novel boronate inhibitors of the Plasmodium falciparum Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 61(22) 10053–10066 (2018) (at
  1. Catherine Lavazec, INSERM, France

Title: Cyclic AMP-mediated activation of erythrocyte permeability increases antimalarials uptake by Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes.

  • Ramdani G et al. cAMP-signalling regulates gametocyte-infected erythrocyte deformability required for malaria parasite transmission. PLoS Pathogens, 11(5) e1004815, doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004815 (2015) (at
  1. Sabine Schmidt, Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Germany

Title:Function of Kelch13 in Artemisinin-resistance in malaria parasites.

  • To-be-published.
  1. Dina Coertzen, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Title: Redox homeostasis as a drug target in Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes.

  • Coertzen D et al. Artemisone and artemiside are potent panreactive antimalarial agents that also synergize redox imbalance in Plasmodium falciparum transmissible gametocyte stages. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 62(8) e 02214–17; doi:10.1128/AAC.02214-17 (2018) (at
  1. Anja Schlott, The Francis Crick Institute, UK

Title: A novel antimalarial resistance mechanism leads to structure guided identification of resistance breaking Plasmodium N-myristoyltransferase inhibitors.

  • Schlott AC et al. Structure-guided identification of resistance breaking antimalarial N‑myristoyltransferase inhibitors.’, Cell Chemical Biology; doi:10.1016/j.chembiol.2019.03.015 (2019) (at

Scientific session 5: Immunology and Vaccine Development

  1. Eleanor Riley, The University of Edinburgh, UK

Title: Immunological impact of subclinical malaria infections.

  • Slater HC et al. The temporal dynamics and infectiousness of subpatent Plasmodium falciparum infections in relation to parasite density. Nature Communications, 10(1433) doi:10.1038/s41467-019-09441-1 (2019) (at
  • Mooney JP et al. Malaria, anemia, and invasive bacterial disease: A neutrophil problem? Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 105(4) 645–655 (2018) (at
  1. Timon Damelang, University of Melbourne, Australia

Title: Importance of functional antibodies in protection of pregnant women from malaria.

  • To-be-published.
  1. Lars Hviid, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Title: Comprehensive analysis of Fc-mediated IgM binding to the Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 family in three parasite clones.

  • Quintana MDP et al. Comprehensive analysis of Fc-mediated IgM binding to the Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 family in three parasite clones. Scientific Reports, 9(6050) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-42585-0 (2019) (at
  1. Yiwei Chen, Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Switzerland

Title: The discovery of new insertions in antibodies against malaria.

  • Pieper K et al. Public antibodies to malaria antigens generated by two LAIR1 insertion modalities. Nature, 548(7669) 597–601 (2017) (at
  1. Christopher Sundling, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Title:B-cell profiling in malaria reveals expansion and remodelling of CD11c+ B-cell subsets.

  • Sundling C et al. B-cell profiling in malaria reveals expansion and remodeling of CD11c+ B cell subsets. JCI Insight, 2(5) doi:10.1172/jci.insight.126492 (2019) (at

Scientific session 6: Cell and Molecular Biology

  1. Wai-Hong Tham, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Australia

Title: Plasmodium vivax invasion: structural scaffolds and human monoclonal antibodies.

  • Gunalan K et al. Plasmodium vivax Infections of Duffy-Negative Erythrocytes: Historically Undetected or a Recent Adaptation? Trends in Parasitology, 34(5) 420–429 doi:10.1016/ (2018) (at
  • Gruszczyk, J. et al. Transferrin receptor 1 is a reticulocyte-specific receptor for Plasmodium vivax. Science, 359(6371) 48–5 (2018) (at
  • França CT. Plasmodium vivax reticulocyte binding proteins are key targets of naturally acquired immunity in young Papua New Guinean children. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 10(9) doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0005014 (2016) (at
  1. Elisabet Tintó, ISGlobal, Spain

Title: Identification of PfAP2-HS as the master regulator of the heat shock response in Plasmodium falciparum parasites.

  • To-be-published.
  1. Sujaan Das, Ludwig Maximillian University, Germany

Title: Formin-2 is the primary nucleator of filamentous actin during intracellular blood stages of P. falciparum, facilitating apicoplast inheritance and completion of cytokinesis.

  • Stortz JF et al. Formin-2 drives polymerisation of actin filaments enabling segregation of apicoplasts and cytokinesis in Plasmodium falciparum. eLife. 8, e49030; doi:10.7554/eLife.49030 (2019) (at
  1. Edgar Deu, The Francis Crick Institute, UK

Title: Plasmodium falciparum dipeptidyl aminopeptidases 1 and 3 play complementary function in erythrocytes invasion.

  • de Vries LE et al. Characterization of falciparum dipeptidyl aminopeptidase 3 specificity identifies differences in amino acid preferences between peptide-based substrates and covalent inhibitors. The FEBS Journal. doi:10.1111/febs.14953 (2019)
  • Lehmann C et al. Plasmodium falciparum dipeptidyl aminopeptidase 3 activity is important for efficient erythrocyte invasion by the malaria parasite. PLoS Pathogens, 14(5) e1007031 doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1007031 (2018) (at
  1. Yunuen Avalos Padilla, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia, Spain

Title: Functional characterization of a minimal ESCRT-III machinery in P. falciparum.

  • Avalos-Padilla Y et al. The conserved ESCRT-III machinery participates in the phagocytosis of Entamoeba histolytica. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 8(53) doi:10.3389/fcimb.2018.00053 (2018) (at
  1. Rita Tewari, University of Nottingham, UK

Title: Plasmodium condensin (SMC2/SMC4) forms differential complexes and is required for atypical cell division during parasite life cycle.

  • Eeftens JM. et al. Condensin Smc2-Smc4 Dimers Are Flexible and Dynamic. Cell Reports, 14(8) 1813–8 (2016) (at
  1. Konstantinos Kousis, The Francis Crick Institute, UK

Title: Activation of the malarial cGMP dependent protein kinase (PKG) by cGMP: a tale of co-operation and affinity.

  • To-be-published.

Scientific session 7: Host-Parasite Interaction

  1. Stefan Kappe, Center for Infectious Disease Research, USA

Title: A double-edged sword: innate and adaptive immunity to Plasmodium liver infection.

  • Goswami D et al. Designer parasites: genetically engineered Plasmodium as vaccines to prevent malaria infection. The Journal of Immunology, 202(1) 20–28; doi:4049/jimmunol.1800727 (2019)
  • Vaughan AM et al. A Plasmodium parasite with complete late liver stage arrest protects against preerythrocytic and erythrocytic stage infection in mice.’, Infection and Immunity, 86(5) e00088-18 doi:10.1128/IAI.00088-18 (2018) (at
  1. Gavin Wright, The Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK

Title: Laverania RH5-basigin binding tropisms reveal a key event in the origin of P. falciparum malaria.

  • Wanaguru M et al. ‘RH5–Basigin interaction plays a major role in the host tropism of Plasmodium falciparum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 110(51) 20735–20740; doi:1073/pnas.1320771110 (2013)
  1. Debanjan Mukherjee, Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Portugal

Title: Microbiota”-A new player in Host-Plasmodium affair.

  • To-be-published.
  1. Jan Stephan Wichers, Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, Germany

Title: var gene expression in malaria naive volunteers experimentally infected with two genetically different P. falciparum strains.

  • To-be-published.
  1. Melissa Hart, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

Title: Combining reverse genetics and live microscopy to dissect P. knowlesi invasion of red blood cells.

  • Mohring F et al. Rapid and iterative genome editing in the zoonotic malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi: New tools for vivax research. BioRxiv. doi:10.1101/590976 (2019)


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