Biology of Tungiasis: Tunga penetrans Genome Project

Reference Number: 
PGD5/CAndisi/ Biology of Tungiasis
Dr Cheryl Andisi, Dr George Githinji and Prof Philip Bejon


Back ground

Tungiasis is a neglected tropical ecto-parasitic disease caused by penetration of the female sand flea Tunga penetrans into the epidermis of its host. Tungiasis is associated with poor communities and occurs in tropical regions of the world, including sub Saharan Africa.  Bacterial super infection of the wounds resulting from tunga penetration has been shown to worsen the disease leading to impaired function of the host (Feidmeier et al., 2002). In addition, unhygienic gravid jigger extraction methods that employ the use of unsterile needles, sharpened wood and safety pins and scratching of infected areas using dirty hands also results to bacterial super infection (Eisele et al., 2003). Unfortunately, there are no effective interventions and treatment for tungiasis. The biology and epidemiology of tungiasis is poorly understood. This study thus proposes to sequence the full genome of Tunga penetrans as a first step in identifying possible interventions. The main aims of the study will be to optimize a high quality DNA extraction protocol for Tunga penetrans and to optimize a sequencing protocol for the same.


Question to be addressed by interns

The main question this internship will answer is whether we can obtain good quality Tunga penetrans DNA for full genome sequencing


Skills to be acquired by intern

DNA extraction and purification methods, PCR, sequencing, literature search, reading, presentation skills


Prefered training background of required intern

BSc in any Biological Sciences including BSc Microbiology, Biomedical Science, Biochemistry, Zoology


Application deadline: 11 February 2019