Aquatic Ecology Research Parasitology

Parasitology

Recent studies estimate that about 40% of all organisms show at least temporarily, a parasitic lifestyle. In aquatic habitats, a large variety of different parasites be found in systematically different trophic levels. Parasites are a natural component of biological communities. Accordingly, most of our work is focused on the parent (= ecosystemic) Importance of parasites. The analysis of parasite communities can indicate human-induced changes in ecosystems. In addition, certain parasites such as Acanthocephala can be used directly as bio-indicators for the presence of pollutants in ecosystems.

Also projects on the ecology and life cycle of parasites, as well as host-parasite interactions (including adverse effects) are carried out by us. Parasites can e.g. act as stressors in their hosts, so that a number of physiological parameters within the hosts change.

In addition to a general stress response (changed cortisol and catecholamine concentrations, heat shock proteins) also other parameters can be influenced which are of interest for ecotoxicological issues (biomarkers, endocrine disruption). It is known of larval stages of the tapeworm Ligula intestinalis e.g., that they affect the sexual development of their intermediate host fish negatively.

As a model system, we currently have the life cycles of various species of the genus Anguillicola sp. established in our laboratory. Evolutionary questions about the specificity of host-parasite coevolution and the colonization potential of each species are carried out here.