25.04.2014 - 02:11
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Department of Primatology

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 (341) 3550 - 200
fax: +49 (341) 3550 - 299

Helene De Nys

Robert Koch-Institut
Nordufer 20
13353 Berlin

Phone: +49 152 59528798
E-mail: denyshelene@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]yahoo.com

Research interests

Due to their close genetic relatedness, humans and chimpanzees are subject to infection by similar parasites. As a result of the progress in molecular biology tools and non-invasive methods for pathogen screening, investigation of infectious diseases in wild great ape populations is developing extensively, which leads to the continuous discovery of pathogens in these populations. My interests lay in the surveillance of these pathogens in order to understand the risk they represent for great ape populations as well as zoonotic threats. I’m more specifically interested in how epidemiological data on these pathogens can be applied to wildlife conservation and used to improve conservation effort. 

My research focuses on patterns of malaria infection in wild chimpanzee populations and the importance of this parasite for their health. Malaria is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions, where it represents a heavy burden in human populations, exerting a strong evolutionary selective force. Recent findings have also shown a high diversity of malaria parasites in great ape populations, which occur naturally in the wild, and have led to increasing understanding of the evolutionary history of Plasmodium species infecting humans. However, information on the epidemiology of malaria in wild great ape populations is very limited and pathogenicity of malaria infections in wild great apes is unknown.  My research aims at creating baseline data on these aspects of malaria through non-invasive investigation of Plasmodium infection and collection of behavioural data in the habituated groups of the Tai Chimpanzee Project.

© H. De Nys