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EMD Seminar Series: Jesus Valenzuela, "Impact of host blood components on parasite multiplication and genetic exchange inside the insect vector"

Leishmaniasis is a neglected disease transmitted by sand flies, affecting approximately one million people worldwide. Subsequent blood meals increase the capacity of vectors, including sand flies, to transmit diseases by promoting contact with susceptible hosts. In this presentation, I will discuss the impact of a second uninfected blood meal on Leishmania development inside the sand fly gut, focusing on the discovery of a new replicative stage known as the retroleptomonad. Additionally, I will discuss how this parasite stage enhances sand fly infectiousness. Furthermore, I will present our work on the characterization of host factors that mediate Leishmania genetic exchange in the sand fly gut and the surprising finding that “natural” IgM antibodies can bind to Leishmania parasites and induce the formation of a parasite clumps, which promote parasite fusion and hybrid formation in the sand fly vector.

YSPH values inclusion and access for all participants.

If you have questions about accessibility or would like to request an accommodation, please contact Maria Reilly at


  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

    Jesus Valenzuela, PhD
    Chief, Vector Molecular Biology Section





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