Parasitic nematodes release a wide variety of proteins into their hosts to manipulate host biology. One family of proteins that is released by Steinernema carpocapsae are the ShK-domain-containing proteins. It was previously not known how these proteins function during a nematode infection. Graduate student Aklima Lima reported that one of these proteins released from S. carpocapsae during infection modulates host immunity by decreasing host resistance to infection. In addition to evaluating how the protein affects fly survival, she also employed some behavioral assays to assess fly health in a more sensitive way. The results were published this week in Pathogens and represents the first published results from Aklima’s graduate work.
Microbiome and Efficacy of Phasmarhabditis to Control Slugs and Snails
Our lab has recently published three studies on the slug-parasitic nematode Phasmarhabditis californica. One study on the native microbiome of these nematodes and two studies on the efficacy of these nematodes against different snail pests; Succinea snails and Theba snails. Most of the work the lab has done on Phasmarhabditis nematodes was driven by Dr. Jake Schurkman, who recently graduated and Dr. Irma Tandingan De Ley, who recently retired. During his time in the lab, Jake was an author on 8 papers, most of which were focused on interactions between gastropods and parasitic nematodes. The species that he worked on, P. california, was discovered by Irma and several colleagues. That nematode is now being sold as a commercial biological control agent to kill slugs. At this point however, it is only available in Europe, not the US. Hopefully this becomes available in the US in the near future.
Jake & Sophia Graduate
Sophia Parks and Jacob Schurkman were hooded in a graduation hooding ceremony over the weekend, completing their doctoral studies. Sophia is the 3rd graduate student to graduate from the Dillman lab and Jake is the 4th. Sophia started a postdoctoral position at Stanford in December and Jake begins a fulltime position at Maine Molecular Quality Controls later this year. Congratulations on their hard work and success!!
Chancellor’s Award for Excellence
Parasitologist Adler Dillman and cell biologist Manuela Martins-Green are this year’s recipients of UC Riverside’s Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement. The award is presented every spring to faculty members with a distinguished record of fostering undergraduate research or creative activity.
Survey of Nematodes that Infect Slugs & Snails in California
We recently surveyed 28 counties in California for nematodes that infect slugs and snails. This was a collaborative effort with Rory Mc Donnell’s lab at Oregon State University. The work was lead by Jake Schurkman and Irma Tandingan De Ley in the Dillman lab. This survey will help us understand the distribution of these nematodes and California and will be used to determine whether these nematodes could be sold and distributed for use in agriculture in the US.
New nematode parasite of tarantulas
A few years ago a tarantula breeder asked for our help in diagnosing an infection occurring in her tarantulas. This week the results of our study describing Tarantobelus jeffdanielsi, a newly described nematode parasite of tarantulas was published. Congratulations to Jake Schurkman, Kyle Anesko, Irma Tandingan De Ley, and Joaquin Abolafia, for their great work on this nematode!
Sophia Parks successfully defended her thesis on parasitic nematode effectors. She is thrilled to begin her postdoctoral research in the Amieva lab at Stanford this month! Congratulations!
Study on Parasitic Nematode FAR Proteins published
Sophia’s study on FAR proteins modulating host immunity was published in PLoS Pathogens. This was a collaborative effort with the University of Victoria, UC San Diego, and Naoki Yamanaka’s lab here at UCR. This represents the first paper that we have published on a specific nematode protein effector. It’s also the first published collaboration with Naoki Yamanaka, Omar Akbari, and Marty Boulanger. Hopefully more to come!
Sophia Parks Honored as Stanford Propel Scholar
Graduate student Sophia Parks has accepted a position as a postdoctoral scholar in Dr. Manuel Amieva’s lab at Stanford University. In addition, she was selected to be one of the inaugural Propel Scholars, a newly formed Postdoctoral Scholar program at Stanford University’s School of Medicine (https://propel.stanford.edu/scholars/). Sophia begins her postdoctoral appointment in January.
Jake Schurkman Honored by ASP
Congratulations to Jake, for receiving the Meritorious Student Paper Award at this year’s American Society of Parasitologists meeting. Jake presented on his work describing a new species of Tarantobelus, which is a new nematode parasite of tarantulas. Way to go Jake!