Kliniken & Institute … Institute Zentrum für… Parasitology Unit Research Malaria 2: Frischknecht… Projects

Visualizing malaria transmission

Malaria is transmitted during the blood meal of the Anopheles mosquito, when Plasmodium sporozoites are injected into the skin. These sporozoites are highly motile using a unique type of motility system allowing them to move within the tissue in order to reach the blood circulation. This motility system is also important for the invasion of a variety of cell types at different stages of the Plasmodium life cycle thus being essential for the successful progression of the infectious cycle of the malaria parasite.

Four projects deal with different aspects of sporozoite biology. One project investigates Lyme disease borrelia.

Project 1: Deletion and modification of genes involved in parasite gliding motility

Project 2: Investigating the biophysical basis of gliding by measuring the forces that sporozoites generate on flexible and nano-patterned substrates as well as with laser traps

Project 3: Quantitative in vivo and in vitro imaging of sporozoites and their interaction with cells and substrates

Project 4: Investigation of sporozoite formation in 3D at high resolution using cryo-electron tomography, correlative light and electron microscopy

Project 5: Investigation of Lyme disease Borrelia


Advanced training:

Courses on Microscopy and imaging host pathogen interactions (e.g.: EMBO World Cup course in South Africa), WACCBIP Cell Biology course [Legon, Ghana], Cell Biology of Malaria course [Bahir Dar, Ethiopia], Biology of Parasitism course [Woods Hole, USA])

Science and Society:

Heidelberg Forum on Biosciences and Society.


For previous and current funding we gratefully acknowledge the following institutions:

Alexander von Humboldt foundation (postdoc fellowship to N. Dahan),

Chica and Heinz Schaller Foundation (group leader fellowship for F. Frischknecht),

European Molecular Biology Organization,

EU Network of Excellence EVIMalaR (PhD fellowship to K. Bane),

EU-FP7 (InterMalTraining – jont PhD student with Maria Mota),

European Research Council (ERC starting grant),

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD, PhD fellowships for H. Kumar and M. Muthinja),

German Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF through Biofuture and NGFN programs),

German Research Foundation (DFG through SFB 544, SFB 1129, SPP 1128, SPP 1464, Coronin),

Hartmut Hoffmann-Berling International Graduate School of Molecular and Cellular Biology Heidelberg (PhD fellowship to B. Spreng),

Human Frontier Science Program Organization (joint grants with Dave Kovar, Anne Houdusse and Jake Baum),

Klaus-Georg-und-Sigrid-Hengstberger Stiftung,

Marie Curie Action of the EU (postdoc fellowship for S. Egarter),

University of Heidelberg Excellence Cluster CellNetworks (postdoc fellowships for L. Lemgruber and R. Douglas),

University of Heidelberg Frontier Program (joint grants with Ulrich Schwarz, Christian Boehm, Michael Boutros, Carmen Ruiz de Almodovar and Rebekka Wade),

University of Heidelberg Medical School

Volkswagen Stiftung


Collaborators -past and present

Baumeister (Martinsried), Martin Baumgartner  (Zurich), Martin Beck (EMBL), Oliver Billker (Cambridge), Jürgen Bosch (Baltimore), Michael Boutros (Heidelberg), Marek Cyrklaff (Heidelberg), Ulrike Engel (Heidelberg), Oliver Fackler (Heidelberg), Volker Heussler (Bern), Anne Houdusse (Paris), David Kovar (Chicago), Misha Kudryashev (Frankfurt), Inari Kursula (Bergen and Oulu), Sebastian Lourido (MIT), Julia Mahamid (EMBL), Gunnar Mair (Ames), Matthias Marti (Glasgow), Kai Matuschewski (Berlin), Alex Mayer (Canberra), Markus Meissner (Glasgow), Maria Mota (Lisboa), Stuart Ralph (Melbourne), Melanie Rug (Canberra), Carmen Ruiz de Almodòvar (Heidelberg), Ulrich Schwarz (Heidelberg), Inga Sidem Kiamos (Heraklion), Photini Sinnis (Baltimore), Dominique Soldati-Favre (Geneva), Joachim Spatz (Stuttgart), Rebecca Wade (Heidelberg), Reinhard Wallich (Heidelberg), Andy Waters (Glasgow)