Olson Lab

Department of Life Sciences, The Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD United Kingdom

Visit to Košice & Smolenice castle, Slovakia

Pete recently returned from a visit with Gabi Hrčkova at the Institute of Parasitology in Košice, Slovakia, coupled with a mini-Workshop on Cestode Systematics organized by the Institute (Slovak Academy of Sciences) held at Smolince castle, outside Bratislava.

Visit with Matt Berriman's Group at the Sanger Institute

Together with Klaus Brehm (see below), we recently visited with Matt Berriman’s group at the Sanger Institute to discuss progress with the Echinococcus and Hymenolepis sequencing efforts. Collaborations between Klaus and Matt (et al) to sequence the genome as well as the transcriptomes of a number of different ontogenetic stages of E. multilocularis are now nearing completion and the assembly and annotation of these data are already revealing some very interesting questions for them to follow up on. A first look at the H. microstoma genome via preliminary 454 data was presented by Alejandro Sanchez.

Welcome Klaus!

Klaus Brehm from the University of Würzburg, Germany, will join us in London the third week of October before presenting his Echinococcus research to the Helminth Genome Group at the Sanger Institute in Hinxton. There he will meet with Matt Berriman to discuss completion of the Echinococcus genome and my group will also use this as an opportunity to visit Hinxton and discuss the Hymenolepis genome with Matt and Klaus.


Evolution of complex parasitic flatworm life cycles from the view-point of developmental biology: the Echinococcus story

Prof Klaus Brehm, University of Würzburg, Germany

22nd October, 12:00
Neil Chalmers Seminar Room
Darwin Centre II

Klaus will present novel research on the model tapeworm Echinococcus (etiological agent of hydatid disease), concentrating on host-parasite cross-communication and on flatworm stem cells and their selection in the intermediate host. Klaus' group have developed the first axenic cultures of this parasite and using their in vitro system are quickly bringing transgenics and functional genomics to cestode research. In collaboration with the Sanger Centre, they will also soon produce the first completed tapeworm genome and transcriptome. Coming from a cell-biology background, Klaus's research brings a new perspective on the mechanisms underlying developmental evolution in parasitic flatworms.


evolving pathways: a summer school on evolutionary developmental biology

Pete recently returned from the “Evolving Pathways” summer school on evolutionary developmental biology held in Venice, Italy: an excellent set of modules in one of the most unique places in the world! Great science, great setting and great friends!

For information about the “Evolving Pathways” summer school see

XIth International Symposium on Flatworm Biology

Pete and Natasha will be attending the IX ISFB in Belgium, July 26-30, where Pete will present the results of our research on the
Hox genes of Hymenolepis.

Welcome Gabi!

Gabi Hrckova from the Slovakian Academy of Sciences will join us for a couple weeks in April/May to help establish in vitro cultures of our model. We will also continue work on Mesocestoides spp. in central Europe that was initiated during a previous Synthsys-sponsored visit to the lab.

Hymenolepis microstoma genome to be sequenced by Sanger!

Discussions with Matthew Berrimen (Sanger Centre, Hinxton, UK) and Klaus Brehm at the British Society of Parasitology spring conference (April 2009) in Edinburgh, UK, have led to an agreement to sequence the genome of Hymenolepis!

The Helminth Genome Centre at Sanger is now finalizing the Echinococcus genome and transcriptome, which are based on specimens from the model Klaus maintains in his lab in southern Germany. Thanks to next generation sequencing, Matt has agreed to use ‘down time’ to sequence the next obvious choice among groups of tapeworms, Hymenolepis, species of which have served as laboratory models since the 1950s and continue to provide a low maintenance system for access to strobilar (ie. adult) stages in the laboratory.

We will be preparing high-quality genomic DNA of an inbred strain of Hymenolepis microstoma that was started from a seed culture gifted to us from the laboratory of Jerzy Behnke in Nottingham, UK. Jerzy’s culture came (if I’m not mistaken) from Jorn Andreassen in Coppenhagen, who in turn is likely to have got his seed culture from the Clark Reid lab in the USA which was one of, if not the original, labs to culture these rodent-hosted species for research purposes (most of our understanding of cestode physiology and biochemistry comes from work on Hymenolepis species). I will be investigating the pedigree of this strain further...

Watch this space for updates on sequencing the Hymenolepis microstoma genome!

Welcome Natasha and Isabel!

Natasha Pouchkina-Stantcheva joined us from her last position at Sussex University on March 2nd to take up a BBSRC-sponsored Post Doctoral Research Associateship. Natasha has already settled in well, albeit her new commute to London will take some getting used to!

We were also joined recently by
Isabel Blasco-Costa who is visiting from Valencia for a month and is helping us with our quest to find ParaHox genes in a parasitic flatworm (inter alia)!

Happy 200th Birthday Darwin!

Check out the special ‘Darwin’ Google image use on 12.02.2009:

'Olson Lab' domain established!

‘www.olsonlab.com’ established and the website redirected.

Launch of the Olson Lab website!

The Olson lab has a (long overdue) home on the web!