Molecular Parasitology


After this unit, students should be able to:
1. Recognise the importance of molecular biology for the study of the major parasites of medical importance and its application on research;
2. Recognise and explain the molecular mechanisms associated with the life cycle of various parasites of medical importance;
3. Identify and evaluate molecular techniques applied to the diagnosis, epidemiology, taxonomy, vaccines and drug resistance, as well as assess their application to new situations;
4. Explain diversity in the context of epidemiology, evolution and population genetics;
5. Plan and perform practical laboratory techniques;
6. Revise critically, communicate and discuss material published in the medical field of molecular parasitology

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Henrique Silveira


Weekly - 10,5

Total - 66

Teaching language

Portuguese and English


Not applicable


• Malaria: Methods and Protocols, Series: Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 923, 2013. 2ª ed. Ménard R (Ed), Springer Science, Londres.
• Manson's Tropical Diseases. 2009. 22ª edição, Cook GC, Zumla AI (Ed.), WB Saunders, Londres.
• Molecular Medical Parasitology. 2002. 1ª ed. Marr J, Nilsen T, Komuniecki R (Ed) Academic Press.
• Molecular Parasitology: Protozoan Parasites and their Molecules. 2016. 1ª ed. Walochnik J, Duchêne M (Ed) Springer-Verlag Wien.
• Trends in Parasitology -

Teaching method

Lectures; Practical laboratory classes; Tutorials and seminars.

Evaluation method

The students’ evaluation will have 2 components:
1 - Seminars: Students will be divided into groups. Each group will have 10 minutes for the oral presentation of a paper, followed by 5-10 minutes of discussion. At the beginning of the course articles using cutting edge methodologies and different microorganisms will be distributed.
2 - Reports of practical laboratory classes.
The final grade of the course, expressed on a scale of 0-20 values, should reflect the relative contribution of partial notes: Seminars 50 % (20% presentation, 20% performance in the discussion and 10 % participation in the discussion of papers presented by other students).
Reports of practical laboratory classes - 50 %

Subject matter

I. Introduction to molecular parasitology. Life cycle and molecules.
II. Molecular taxonomy and evolution.
III. Applications and methods used for transfection of animal cells and bacteria.
IV. Phylogeny, population biology and vector control
V. Molecular methods applied to the study of intestinal parasitoses
VI. Molecular basis of insecticide resistance
VII. Biochemical assays of enzymatic activity applied to insecticide resistance (PRACTICAL)
VIII. Leishmania molecular typing. (PRACTICAL)
IX. Molecular mechanisms of cell invasion and mobility - Apicomplexa.
X. Molecular mechanisms of cell invasion and mobility - Trypanosomatids.
XI. Antigenic variation in Plasmodium
XII. Antigenic variation in Trypanosoma brucei
XIII. Mechanisms of drug resistance in Leishmania
XIV. Resistance to antimalarials.
XV. Gene Expression. (PRACTICAL)
XVI. Detection of Schistosoma mansoni in Biomphalaria glabrata. (PRACTICAL)
XVII. Binomial relationship Schistosoma-snail: resistance or susceptibility?
XVIII. Functional genomics - microarrays, NGS and gene silencing in parasitology. (SEMINARS)


Programs where the course is taught: