Mark Taylor: The Light and Dark Side of the Symbiont
Professor Mark Taylor is Head of Parasitology at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and President of the British Society for Parasitology. He works on a group of neglected tropical diseases known as filarial nematodes, which have evolved a mutualistic symbiosis with the bacterium, Wolbachia. His research exploits the Wolbachia/worm symbiosis as a target for antibiotic therapy, providing a novel and effective treatment for river blindness and elephantiasis.
Talk: The Light and Dark Side of the Symbiont
The bacterium, Wolbachia is the most widespread symbiont on the Bluedot. It is pandemic in millions of invertebrates - 7 out of every 10 insects are home to Wolbachia. Such a broad spectrum of hosts has driven the evolution of a myriad of associations ranging from best friends to mortal enemies, which has been exploited for public health benefits. Mosquitoes carrying the bug are resistant to other bugs, such as the viruses that cause Dengue, chikungunya and Zika. In the parasitic worms that cause river blindness and elephantiasis, the bacterium has become an essential lodger, which when treated with antibiotics can cure these tropical diseases.