This project was prepared as part of a BioQUEST faculty development workshop entitled ASM/BioQUEST Bioinformatics Institute at American Society for Microbiology in March 2007. The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium is committed to the reform of undergraduate biology instruction through an emphasis on engaging students in realistic scientific practices. This approach is sometimes characterized as an inquiry driven approach and is captured in BioQUEST's three P's (problem-posing, problem-solving, and peer-persuasion). As part of this workshop groups of faculty were encouraged to initiate innovative curricular projects. We are sharing these works in progress in the hope that they will stimulate further exploration, collaboration and development. Please see the following links for additional information:

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Global Malaria Problem Space
Authors          Audiences          Overview           Materials          Resources           Future Directions



Jonathan Kidd
Wesley College

Jennifer Koehl
Saint Vincent College

Edwin Wong
Western Connecticut State University

Penelope Worthington
Lincoln Memorial University

Heather Louch
North Carolina Wesleyan College


Possible Audiences:

Introductory Biology (Nonmajors and/or Majors), Allied Health Courses, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Microbiology (General, Medical), Molecular Evolution  


Brief Overview:

Main goal: using bioinformatic tools in a comprehensive investigation of relationships between vectors, parasites, and hosts using Malaria as a model.

Potential Investigations

  1. Investigating Rodent hosts through:
    • comparison of P. spp. that infect rodents to each other
    • comparison of rodent geographic distribution to P. infection
    • comparison of parasite isoenzymes
      • PDB structures of parasite isoenzymes
      • wet lab: biochemical analysis of isoenzymes
    • use of rodents as model organism for vaccine development
  2. Anopheles mosquitoes as vectors
    • what is the ecology of Anopheles?
    • investigate the specificity of the vector as related to individual P. spp.
    • what is the vector geographic distribution with regards to P. infection?
    • what are eradication strategies, and implications on P. genome evolution?
    • what use is the vector genome sequence?
  3. Investigating Plasmodium organism through:
    • comparison of mitochondrial sequences of Plasmodium spp. to each other
    • comparison of mitochondrial sequences of Plasmodium spp. to bacteria
    • comparison of mitochondrial sequences of Plasmodium spp. to Phylum Apicomplexa
      • Multiple Sequence Alignment (MSA)
      • BLASTx
    • comparison of life cycles of Eimeria vs. Plasmodium spp.
    • comparison of the pathogenicity of pathogenic vs. non-pathogenic spp.
    • bioinformatics
    • a look at clinical malaria (symptoms of P. falciparum vs. other spp.)
    • a look at geographic distribution of P. spp.
    • bioinformatics of genome projects
      • 1 complete (P. falciparum)
      • 2 draft (P. yoelii, P. chabaudi)
      • 5 in progress (P. vivax, P. knowlesi, P. berghei, P. gallinaceum, P. reichenowi)
    • a look at chromosomes to determine synteny
  4. Development of Malaria vaccines
    • why are they so difficult to develop?
    • what is relationship to Plasmodium lifecycle?
    • what epitopes do they target & why?
    • what are the model organism for vaccine development, and why?
    • most current vaccines are recombinant. Why?
    • can human vaccines work in other hosts? How does this relate to the vaccine targets?
  5. Malaria as a global problem (ethics)
    • how does economic and cultural development impact the incidence and/or severity of malaria?
    • who pays for malaria?
      • money
      • time
      • effort
    • why should we be concerned if it's not in the U.S.?
    • vaccination programs
      • what are difficulties in implementing vaccination programs?
      • who determines who gets vaccinated?
      • who gets vaccinated?


Project Materials:

Sequences for four Plasmodium genomes



    Resources and References:

  • The Plasmodium berghei research model of malaria. Chapter 2, Introduction to Plasmodium berghei, Leiden University Medical Center,
  • Malaria Triad: Genetics & Genomics, National Center for Biotechnology Information,
  • The Centers for Disease Control,
  • World Health Organization, � Roll Back Malaria Partnership, World Health Organization,  


    Future Directions:

    Malaria is a global problem that lends itself to a multilayered investigative approach with bioinformatics as a major component. Ongoing genome projects for Plasmodium and vector species will allow further expansion of these investigations.  



    - Malaria.ppt