PhD position available

Malaria parasites (Haemosporida), with the predominant species Plasmodium falciparum, are the causative agents of the severe tropical disease in humans. Plasmodium parasites feature a complex life cycle with distinct invasive and replicating stages and host switches. In infections with Plasmodium parasites, intra-erythrocytic replication of asexual blood stages is the exclusive cause of malaria disease. This pathogenic life cycle step is missing in all other malaria (haemosporidian) parasite genera that infect a wide range of vertebrate and invertebrate hosts.

Bats are hosts to a high diversity of malaria parasites, including Hepatocystis parasites that are the closest relatives of mammalian Plasmodium species. Fruit bats in Africa, Asia and Australia feature high prevalence rates of Hepatocystis infections and tolerate high parasite loads. Bats present a unique study system, they feature a high species diversity and are known for their exceptional longevity and innate immune defenses. Comprehensive parasitological and molecular investigation of closely related malarial parasites such as Hepatocystis in bat hosts contributes to our understanding of parasite/host co-evolution of the important vector-borne infectious human disease.

The overall objective of the PhD project is to work to an understanding of host adaptation and the evolution of the life cycles of bat malaria parasites by analyzing and interpreting genome and transcriptome data of the parasites in a comparative approach with published Plasmodium (and other haemosporidian genera) datasets. The project offers the opportunity to gain knowledge in next generation sequencing, analysis of genome/transcriptome data and scientific publishing amongst others. The position is funded by the DFG for up to three years (65% of regular working hours – E13 TVL HU) and serves as a scientific qualification (doctorate).

The successful candidate will be part of a small, new research group, led by Juliane Schaer, in the working group Molecular Parasitology at the Institute of Biology at the Humboldt-University in Berlin and will have access to institutional resources and a larger network of students and researchers. The project includes national and international interdisciplinary collaborations with scientists in the research fields of bat ecology, bioinformatics, immunology and experimental genetics.

We are seeking highly motivated candidates with enthusiasm for parasitology and evolutionary biology with a Master´s degree (or equivalent) in biology, genetics, bioinformatics or a related field. You are expected to work independently, have good communication skills and a solid background in molecular biology. Expertise in bioinformatics is a plus.

If you are interested, please send your CV and a cover letter explaining your interest to:


Our mini-review about Hepatocystis parasites is online!

Ejotre I, DM Reeder, K Matuschewski, J Schaer. Hepatocystis. Trends in Parasitology. 2020.


Science Blog “Lab Down Under” released a blog about our work on Hepatocystis parasites in Australia: link to article


Our paper about Hepatocystis parasites in Australian Grey-headed flying foxes is accepted for publication and is online!

Schaer J, W Boardman, A McKeown, DA Westcott, K Matuschewski, M Power. Molecular investigation of Hepatocystis parasites in the Australian flying fox Pteropus poliocephalus across its distribution range. Infection, Genetics and Evolution. 2019. 75, 103978.


Our paper about Hepatocystis parasites of bats in Nigeria got accepted and is online!

Atama N, S Manu, S Ivande, SP Rosskopf, K Matuschewski, J Schaer. Survey of Hepatocystis parasites of fruit bats in the Amurum forest reserve, Nigeria, identifies first host record for Rousettus aegyptiacus. Parasitology. 2019. 146 (12), 1550-1554.


Our paper about Nycteria and Polychromophilus parasites of bats in Gabon got accepted and is online!

Rosskopf SP, J Held, M Gmeiner, B Mordmüller, P Matsiégui, I Eckerle, N Weber, K Matuschewski, J Schaer. Nycteria and Polychromophilus parasite infections of bats in Central Gabon. Infection, Genetics and Evolution. 2019. 68, 30-34




Our paper about the phylogeny of Hepatocystis parasites of Australian Pteropus species got accepted today and is online! 

Phylogeny of Hepatocystis parasites of Australian flying foxes reveals distinct parasite clade. Schaer, J., McMichael, L., Gordon, A.N., Russell, D., Matuschewski, K., Perkins, S. L., Field, H., Power, M.; International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife 2018.



AMNH press release: 

Researchers Build Most Comprehensive Tree of Life for Malaria Parasites

Our paper about the polyphyly of Plasmodium is online in Royal Society Open Science! (23.05.2018)

The polyphyly of Plasmodium: comprehensive phylogenetic analyses of the malaria parasites (order Haemosporida) reveal widespread taxonomic conflict
Galen, S. C., Borner, J., Martinsen, E. S., Schaer, J., Austin, C. C., West, C. J., Perkins, S. L.; Royal Society Open Science 2018; 5:171780-171780.

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