Cell Biology/behavior in parasites

Kin discrimination contributes to the evolution of cooperation in animals, but is less known in unicellular microbes. We use the human parasite Entamoeba histolytica and its relatives, which live in a range of hosts (including reptiles, birds and mammals), and freely in ponds and still waters.

Metabolic proteins are essential for survival. The human parasite Entamoeba histolytica lives in the anaerobic environment of the gut. It relies on a bifunctional enzyme to obtain energy: EhADH2. We design and test inhibitors that block the enzymes’ activities and inhibit parasite growth for treatment purposes.

Biology of ADHE enzymes

Evolution and Public OutreachOutreach.html

E. invadens-VK and IP1 are parasites that infect reptiles.  E. invadens-VK was isolated from lizards and IP1 was isolated from snakes. Our research of the Entamoeba lineage suggests that these protists discriminate and associate with members of their own kin, a feature previously attributed only to social microbes.

FROM THE COVER Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology, Vol 59 (2): March-April 2012

Click here for the full paper

Only 35 to 40% of Americans accept the concept of evolution. Since 2007, we have shown (1) a positive association between science and evolution literacy, and negative association between religiosity and science/evolution literacy; (2) gradual increase in acceptance of evolution and decrease in religiosity as function of academic level; and (3) differential understanding of science/evolution and level of religiosity between professors and educators of prospective teachers, and between biology majors and non-major college students

EhADH2 3-D Model

Schematic diagram of Entamoeba histolytica alcohol dehydrogenase

2 (EhADH2). The enzymatic activities reside in two separate, interacting domains: aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) and alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) between domains (Paz-yMino-C & Espinosa 2010).