Scientists from the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham in the UK have received nearly £600,000 (~$765,000) to research how sexual development and gene shuffling within the malaria parasite could help to control malaria transmission. Led by Dr. David Guttery from the University of Leicester and Professor Rita Tewari from the University of Nottingham, the research will focus on the molecular players involved in the development and transmission of the malaria parasite--one of the biggest killers in the world. This is a unique type of cell division in sexual cells in malaria parasites, which happens during a process called meiosis. Meiosis is a fundamental process for all sexual organisms that enables them to generate sex cells (i.e., sperm and egg cells) that then go on to fertilize and reshuffle their genes, ultimately generating off-spring. The molecules controlling the process are well studied in many model organisms, including yeast, Drosophila, and humans. However, meiosis is very different in the malaria parasite as it begins after fertilization in a banana-shaped stage of the malaria life-cycle called the ookinete, which is a crucial stage required for transmission from the mosquito.
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