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Home > Research teams > Amoebas and interactions

Presentation

Presentation

Amoebae are unicellular eukaryotes which belong to three different supergroups: Excavata, Amoebozoa and Opisthokonts. Unlike the obligate parasites such as Entamoeba histolytica, the free-living amoebae (FLA) are able to live independently from any other organism, without any human or animal host. They are abundant and ubiquitous in natural environments and found in soil and fresh water as well as in sea water. Several FLA are frequently isolated from anthropogenic systems, such as water networks, air-conditioning units and cooling towers.

FLA has aroused interest for two main reasons. First, some of them have been associated with human diseases with the most virulent Naegleria fowleri causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a rapidly fatal disease of the central nervous system. Second, FLA can be infected by amoeba-resisting bacteria (ARB) that escape phagocytosis and provide a reservoir for many microorganisms, particularly human pathogens such as Legionella pneumophila or Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Therefore, our research is focused on three main axes:
-  Amoeba-bacteria interactions
-  Studies and molecular diagnostics of pathogenic amoebae
-  Phylogenetic analyses of soil amoebae
Our structure integrates a biosafety level 3 laboratory for studies on interactions among organisms related to health and environment and for the analyses of pathogenic amoebae such as N. fowleri.