Ecology and Evolution of parasites
Maarten Voordouw (Assistant professor)
General interest: My general interest is in the ecology and evolution of host-parasite interactions. I am particularly interested in vector-borne diseases, which include three actors: the pathogen (or parasite), the vertebrate host, and the arthropod vector. Vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and the Zika virus represent a serious challenge to public health.
Study system: The research of my group is predominantly focussed on the ecology and evolution of Lyme borreliosis (LB). LB is the most common vector-borne disease in the northern hemisphere (~130,000 human cases per year). In Europe, most cases of human LB are caused by two species of spirochete bacteria: Borrelia afzelii and B. garinii. These two species of tick-borne pathogens are both transmitted by the tick Ixodes ricinus but they are adapted to live in different classes of vertebrate hosts. Borrelia afzelii is associated with rodents whereas B. garinii is found mostly in birds.