Associate Professor Dr Sonja Rueckert (School of Applied Sciences) recently received funding (US$ 381,688) from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, to lead one of the 42 teams of scientists that are to be supported over the next three years as part of the Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems Initiative (US$ 140 million).
The initiative aims to develop and advance model systems to gain better understanding of how these symbiotic associations evolved and function.
Dr Rueckert says: “The international team I am leading will work on culturing techniques for gregarine apicomplexans infecting marine and freshwater invertebrates (Fig. 1). The team includes researchers from the UK, USA, Czech Republic and France.
“This is very exciting, as we can now develop our culturing approach, which will enable scientists to advance fundamental research on the evolutionary steps of symbiosis in the Apicomplexa (important parasites for humans and livestock, e.g. causing Malaria).
“Having a culture system will make it easier to identify key cellular and molecular transitions in the evolution from free-living relatives to intracellular parasites.
“My research organisms of interest, the gregarines, cover the whole range of symbiotic relationships with their hosts from mutualistic to parasitic, and therefore play a crucial role in the understanding of the evolution of this symbiotic association.
“The unique, collaborative set up of this program will foster the exchange of techniques and ideas of about 200 scientists from different disciplines with the common goal to advance the field of aquatic symbiosis.’
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation fosters path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements and preservation of the special character of the Bay Area. Visit Moore.org and follow @MooreFound.