Medical Biodiversity and Parasitology Parasites are an integral part of every ecosystem

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Together with their hosts they form permanent or temporary biocoenoses, or cause damage by transitorily invading other organisms. Professor Sven Klimpel investigates the rich biodiversity of terrestrial and aquatic parasites, as well as pathogenic viruses, bacteria and fungi. He is able to identify different parasitic species by means of molecular biological analysis and studies their evolutionary development. Because many parasites use several different invertebrate and vertebrate hosts in their life cycle in the course of development from egg to larva to reproductive maturity, Klimpel characterises the various stages of the life cycle, the relationship between parasite and host, and the dispersal strategies in order to clarify their life cycles. To achieve this he models the ecosystems' food chains and studies the mechanisms that allow parasites to transfer between organisms of different species. In addition to being directly ingested as food, insects may also act as vectors; thus, transmitting pathogenic microorganisms without becoming infected themselves. In the course of climate change, endemic vectors such as midges (e. g. biting midges) and invasive species are capable of adapting to these new conditions. Klimpel's analysis of the dispersal processes serves as indicators of the rapid changes taking place in the respective ecosystems.

Klimpel and his research group develop molecular detection methods that enable them to study pathogens and their effects in detail. Their goal is to fight infections early on and in a targeted manner. At times of acute epidemics, Klimpel collaborates with national and international agencies and pharmaceutical companies. "Just informing the public on site helps to avoid infection. The larvae of nematodes, for example, are often consumed when fish is not fully cooked and can infect the digestive tract of the specific host", Klimpel explains.

Students participating in the "Ecology and Evolution" Master's Programme learn, among other things, about the complex circumstances under which parasites and pathogens occur and spread, as well as the impact of climate change. A broad spectrum of methods, from morphological to genetic analysis, should enable them not only to perform a comprehensive and correct interpretation of their findings, but also to apply these results to infection research.

Brief Biography

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Sven Klimpel studied Biology in Kiel and then completed his doctorate at the Institute of Zoomorphology, Cell Biology and Parasitology in Düsseldorf. As head of the young Aquatic and Terrestrial Parasitology Research Group there, he researched, taught and took part in numerous scientific research expeditions, including one to the Antarctic. Klimpel's Habilitation topic at Düsseldorf (2008) was concerned with the differences and evolutionary biology of parasites and pathogens in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. He also taught there as a private lecturer. He currently acts as both an editor-inchief and editor for various scientific journals. In 2010 Klimpel was appointed professor at the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiKF) of the Senckenberg Nature Research Society and Goethe University Frankfurt. 

Contact:

Prof. Dr. Sven Klimpel
Institute for Ecology, Evolution
and Diversity/Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre
Senckenberganlage 25
60325 Frankfurt am Main
Germany
Telephone: +49 (0)69 7542 1821
E-Mail: sven.klimpel@senckenberg.de
www.bio.uni-frankfurt.de