Untangling the relationship between snails, schistosomes and the environment
Schistosomiasis is a water-borne disease transmitted through freshwater snails in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Knowledge about the ecology of snail-vectors and their role in the transmission of schistosomiasis, however, is lacking but essential for developing multidisciplinary approaches to combat this devastating neglected tropical disease. We do know that schistosomes are specialists with different parasite species/strains only developing within specific snail species in different endemic foci.
Untangling the complexities of immunity and virulence that have evolved to influence snail-schistosome compatibility will facilitate monitoring, predicting and modifying transmission of schistosomiasis and other snail-borne parasites. The overarching aim of this project is to use recent advances in snail-vector molecular biology to understand the interactions between snails, schistosomes and the environment.