NEM-30306 Host-Parasite Interactions


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper6
Course coordinator(s)dr. G Smant
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. JE Kammenga
dr. SA Geisen
dr. ir. A Schots
dr. MTW Vervoort
dr. ir. A Goverse
RHP Wilbers
dr. MG Sterken
dr. ir. J Helder
JA Vervalle
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 aims to teach students the unique survival and reproduction strategies of parasites of animals and plants. However, it should be noted that a specific host-parasite interaction is always part of a larger ecosystem, and that the outcome of such an interaction is influenced by many other biotic and abiotic factors. The focus in this course is on current topics in the fiield of host-parasite interactions, including recent insights from many other disciplines such as ecology, soil biology, molecular and cell biology, plant and animal physiology, biotechnology, immunology, and genetics. Besides developing  a more integrative view on host-parasite interactions as a broad biological phenomenon, students will also discuss how this knowledge can be translated into better human, animal and plant health.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- search, read, and understand 'the state of the art' in a relevant scientific domain;
- explain and illustrate their understanding of the subject matter in their own words in writing;
- use the formal scientific writing style with a particular focus on precision, clarity, and conciseness to express their thoughts; 
- identify gaps in the current knowledge related to the subject matter of their literature research;
- make concrete proposals to address these gaps with further research;
- provide structured feedback on scientific text of others students.


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 at least 15 recent and relevant research papers. A student is free to choose a topic to work on, providing that it is a "hot topic" and has some connection to the expertise of members of the laboratory of Nematology.
Examples of possible thematic areas are:
- nematodes (and other soil microfauna) as key component in soil food webs;
- nematodes (and related helminths) as governors of the host's immune system in plant and animals;
- learning-from-nature: nematodes (and related helminths) to treat immune-related diseases; 
- the effect of climate change on host-parasite interactions;
- parasite-induced changes in host behaviour;  
- nematodes as models for human diseases, and
- the evolution of parasitism.
After selecting a topic for literature research, each student will be assigned a personal supervisor with matching scientific expertise. Under the guidance of the personal supervisor each student will search, read, and report on the recent scientific insights related to the subject matter. The students will engage in discussions with their personal supervisor about these latest insights. This will help them to identify gaps in the current knowledge. At the end, the students will make concrete proposals to address these gaps for instance with further clinical studies and/or laboratory/field experiments. Finally, the students will deliver an individual review paper styled and formatted according editorial policies of international peer reviewed scientific journals. The students in the course will also be trained in the role of scientific peer reviewer in two rounds of structured peer feedback using a predefined editorial protocol.   


- 95% of the grade is based on an assessment of the writing process towards the final version of the scientific review paper and the quality of the paper itself (see for details of the assessment criteria the grading RUBRIC);
- 5% of the grade is based on the quality of four peer reviews.


Will be made available at the start of the course.

Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScC: Spec. C - Health and Disease1AF, 1MO, 2AF, 2MO, 3WD, 4WD, 5AF, 5MO, 6AF, 6MO
MPSPlant SciencesMScE: Spec. E - Plant Pathology and Entomology1AF, 1MO, 2AF, 2MO, 3WD, 4WD, 5AF, 5MO, 6AF, 6MO
MPBPlant BiotechnologyMScC: Spec. C - Molecular Plant Breeding and Pathology1AF, 1MO, 2AF, 2MO, 3WD, 4WD, 5AF, 5MO, 6AF, 6MO
MPBPlant BiotechnologyMScB: Spec. B - Plants for Human Health1AF, 1MO, 2AF, 2MO, 3WD, 4WD, 5AF, 5MO, 6AF, 6MO