Experimental Parasitology (Meissner)

Department / Institute
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Experimental Parasitology
Subject area
Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Parasitology
Project title
The function of the gliding initiation complex in Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium falciparum
Name of supervisor
Prof. Markus Meissner
Number of open positions
Language requirements
Proficiency in English
Academic requirements
4-year Bachelor's plus Master's Degree; at the time of application, the last final exam should have taken place in the past 4 years.
Study model
Full doctoral study model: 36 or 48 months

Project description

The research group of Prof. Markus Meissner (LMU) invites applications for doctoral student positions to work on fundamental biological aspects of apicomplexan parasites and their host cells. A major focus will be the identification and analysis of critical parasite and host cell genes, using Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium falciparum as model systems.

Using a phenotypic screening approach, we previously identified a new set of critical, hypothetical genes required for host cell egress and invasion (Li et al, Nature Microbiology 2022), leading to the identification of a novel “gliding initiation complex” (GIC).

No information exists regarding the exact function of GIC and our initial characterisation localises this essential complex to the conoid of the parasite, where it interacts with the actin nucleator Formin-1 (FRM1) and a putative histone methytransferase (PCKMT). Importantly, PCKMT is the second critical methyltransferase identified that is required for host cell egress and invasion.

To understand the function, regulation and mechanisms of GIC we will:

1. Investigate the composition of GIC in T.gondii using proximity labelling and other biochemical methods.

2. Analyse the function of selected GIC components in T.gondii

3. Compare the role of conserved GIC factors in the related apicomplexan parasite, P.falciparum, the causative agent of malaria.

The project is highly interdisciplinary and uses state-of-the art technologies, such as super-resolution imaging, reverse and forward genetics based on CRISPR/cas9 in T.gondii and P.falciparum, proximity labelling and MS analysis, to mention a few.

The Meissner lab is part of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Numerous core facilities ensure state-of-the-art equipment and expertise.


Li, W., et al., Nat Microbiol, 2022. 7(6): p. 882-895.

Periz, J., et al., Nat Commun, 2019. 10(1): p. 4183.

Gras, S., et al., PLoS Biol, 2019. 17(6): p. e3000060.

Andenmatten, N., et al., Nat Methods, 2013. 10(2): p. 125-7.

For further information, please contact: markus.meissner@lmu.de

Research group website

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