Research ProjectGenomics of Host-Parasite Interactions

A pathogenic species of Labyrinthula in culture

Pathogenic and nonpathogenic species of Labyrinthula in culture. Researchers are sequencing the genomes and transcriptomes of these species to understand how they infect hosts and cause disease. Photo Credit: D. Martin

Affiliated Labs

Project Goal

We are using a range of genomic tools to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in host-parasite interactions.


The parasitic lifestyle is the most common lifestyle on Earth – there are more parasite than free-living species on this planet. This level of species diversity presents many challenges in studying these organisms, along with the diversity of life characteristics including life cycles, how parasites move from one host to another, how parasites invade their hosts, and what parasites do to their hosts. Understanding how parasites accomplish these tasks is essential to understanding and mitigating the spread of disease in marine systems.

We use a variety of genomic tools, including sequencing the genomes* and transcriptomes* of parasites to understand the molecular pathways that are involved in how parasites invade and cause damage to their hosts. We are also interested in the use of these genomic tools with both laboratory and field experiments to examine how host-parasite interactions are impacting by changing environmental conditions.


Katrina Lohan,

Term Definition
Genome All the genetic material of an organism
Transcriptome All of the expressed portion (or messenger RNA) of the genes from a genome