Our laboratory mainly conducts basic and applied researches on the diagnosis, prevention, control and treatment of a variety of parasitic diseases of domestic animals, wildlife and humans. The pathogens studied include parasitic helminths (e.g., Taenia, Echinococcus, Dirofilaria, Baylisascaris and Ascaris), arthropods (e.g., Haemaphysalis, Sarcoptes and Psoroptes) and protozoa (e.g., Giardia and Cryptosporidium). Our main scientific aim is to 1) understand the molecular biology of these parasites and the diseases that they cause, and to 2) develop new interventions, including vaccines and novel diagnostic tests for effective control.

MITES & TICKS

Sarcoptic mange and Psoroptic acariasis are common ectoparasite infestation caused by the mites Sarcoptes scabiei, Psoroptes spp., and Chorioptes spp.,  respectively.Ticks are also very common ectoparasite in animals. They occur seasonally and infected animals usually cease to feed and would become severely debilitated. Importantly, they can cause significant human and animal health problems as well as considerable socio-economic consequences worldwide. Current researches involved to the ectoparasites include population genetic structure analyses, mtDNAs and transcriptomes of mites, as well as the immune regulation mechanisms between mites and their hosts. Moreover, the discovery of natural acaricidal drugs in plants is also included.

TAPEWORMS

Cestodes have a worldwide distribution. Taeniidae have two genera, Taenia and Echinococcus, and our work mainly focuses on three species

Echinococcus granulosus    Cystic echinococcosis (CE), a disease caused by infection with the larval stage of the tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus, is one of the most important helminthic zoonoses and is considered a significant problem of global public health.

Taenia multiceps    The larval stage (coenurus) of Taenia multiceps parasitizes the brain or spinal cord of domestic ruminants, such as goats, sheep, cattle, yak, and buffalo as well as related wild species, and causes lethal neurological symptoms and even death.

Taenia pisiformis    The larval stage of Taenia pisiformis, also known as Cysticercus pisiformis, is the causative agent of cysticercosis and the cause of severe health problems in rabbits that negatively impacts on husbandry production.

Current researches involve to these tapeworm species mainly include their population genetic structures analyses, mtDNAs, transcriptmoes and MicroRNAs, as well as the discovery of novel genes as potential vaccine/diagnostic candidates against taeniasis.

PARASITES OF WILDLIFE

Baylisascaris spp.  Baylisascaris spp. represents a significant threat to wildlife including the captive ones. These parasites usually inhabit in their intestines and can cause severe baylisascariasis. In nature, Baylisascaris spp. in wild mammals, such as giant pandas, red pandas, bears and raccoons, makes them one of the leading causes of death from primary and secondary infection in host populations.

Our work mainly focuses on four Baylisascaris species, including Baylisascaris schroederi, Baylisascaris ailuri, Baylisascaris transfuga, and Baylisascaris procyonis. Current researches involve to Baylisascaris spp. mainly include their population genetic structures and mtDNAs, as well as the discovery of novel genes as potential vaccine/diagnostic candidates against baylisascariasis. Moreover, the study of sequencing genome and developmental transcriptomes of Baylisascaris schroederi is ongoing in BIG.

Dirofilaria immitis      The heartworm Dirofilaria immitis is the causal agent of cardiopulmonary dirofilariosis in dogs and cats, and also infects a wide range of wild mammals, as well as humans. In China, D. immitis infection causes a serious life-threatening to red pandas. Our current researches involve to D. immitis mainly include its transcriptomes, MicroRNAs, and population genetic structures analyses, as well as the discovery of novel genes as potential vaccine/diagnostic candidates against dirofilariosis.

Others    Other gastrointestinal parasites in wildlife can impact host survival and reproduction directly through pathologic effects and indirectly by reducing host condition. Severe infection can lead to blood loss, tissue damage, spontaneous abortion, congenital malformations and death. Of these, gastrointestinal nematode infection may result in clinical diseases or confound experimental protocols that utilize non-human primates.

Our current researches involve to these parasites mainly include mtDNAs, molecular classification, and epidemiological investigation.