NEM-30306 Host-Parasite Interactions


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper2
Course coordinator(s)dr. G Smant
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. J Bakker
dr. G Smant
prof. dr. ir. JE Kammenga
dr. ir. A Goverse
dr. ir. J Helder
dr. ir. A Schots
Examiner(s)dr. G Smant

Language of instruction:


Continuation courses:

Thesis Nematology.


One quarter of the global human population is suffering from a parasite infection. Similar or higher infection rates happen in domesticated animals, while the incidence of parasites in wild animals is largely unknown. Plants are equally vulnerable to infections with parasites. Reductions of global food production by parasites such as nematodes aggregate to 15 percent or higher. Often food crops can no longer be grown in specific areas because of the local build-up of devastating soil-born parasites. This course teaches students the unique survival and reproduction strategies of parasites of animals and plants. Many parasites thrive in the host for several months or longer, while largely being untouched by the immune systems of the host. These parasites manage to keep a fine balance between exploiting the host's resources and neutralizing its immune responses. The focus in this course is on current topics in host-parasite interactions, which includes advanced knowledge from other disciplines such as ecology, molecular and cell biology, plant and animal physiology, biotechnology, immunology, and genetics. Besides working towards a better understanding of host-parasite interactions as a biological phenomenon, we will also discuss how this knowledge can translate into better human and animal health, and more sustainable approaches to food safety and security.

Learning outcomes:

At the end of the course unit, the student is expected to be able to:
- find, read, and summarize 'the state of the art' in relevant scientific literature;
- formulate the next logical relevant research question given the state of the art in the field;
- design a workplan to address the research question;
- implement the workplan either in a desktop study or with laboratory experiments;
- report orally and in writing on the results of the study.


The students will focus on an in-depth analysis of a current problem, model, or theory related to nematode biology in the widest possible sense, using various information resources. The student is free to choose a topic to work on, providing that it is at the frontiers of our knowledge of the subject matter.
The possible thematic areas are:
- nematodes in multitrophic interactions;
- nematodes as governors of the host's immune system;
- nematodes to treat hyperimmune disease;
- structure and function of plant innate immune system;
- nematodes as models for human diseases, and
- nematode biodiversity and evolution.
The students will search, read, and report on scientific information from various resources. The students will actively participate in scientific discussions in one of research groups related to the topic of interest. The students will formulate a specific assignment to be complete either in a desktop study or in laboratory/field experiments. In case of desktop study the student will deliver a report following the standard scientific format. In case of laboratory/field experiments the students will deliver a labjournal following standard scientific format.


Individual paper written as a scientific review based on at least 15 recent research papers (relative weight of the components:
- 5% literature search result and objective of paper;
- 15% introduction and organization of paper;
- 80% final draft of main body of the text) Or, in case a student chooses to practical pathway, experimental design (5%);
- observations on laboratory performance (60%);
- data analysis (15%), and final version of lab-journal (20%).


Will be made available at the start of the course.

Restricted Optional for: MPSPlant SciencesMScE: Plant Pathology and Entomology1,2,3,4,5,6
MPBPlant BiotechnologyMScB: Plants for Human and Animal Health1,2,3,4,5,6
MPBPlant BiotechnologyMScC: Molecular Plant Breeding and Pathology1,2,3,4,5,6