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Cambridge Infectious Diseases

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

Studying at Cambridge


Ross Waller

Ross  Waller

Molecular Cell Biology and Evolution of Apicomplexan Parasites

Ross Waller is accepting applications for PhD students.

The Department of Biochemistry
Hopkins Buidling, Downing Site
Tennis Court Road
University of Cambridge

Cambridge CB2 1QW
Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 766057

Research themes

Pathogen Biology and Evolution:
Host-Pathogen Interactions:
Cambridge Parasitic and Neglected Tropical Diseases Network:
Connections in Asia:
  • Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology 
Connections in Europe:
  • France, Joseph Fourier University
  • UK, University of Nottingham, University of Glasgow
Connections in Australasia:
  • Australia, Australian National University, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, University of Melbourne 

Departments and Institutes


Research Interests

Apicomplexan parasites cause diseases such as malaria and toxoplasmosis, and are superbly evolved to non-destructively invade their host cells where they proliferate. They have remodelled a common cytoskeletal platform shared with related phyla, dinoflagellates and ciliates, to achieve these fiendish tasks. We are deconstructing the apicomplexan cytoskeleton using the genetically tractable model system Toxoplasma gondii to better understand these disease processes.

The lab also has broad interests in character evolution throughout Apicomplexa and the related phyla, dinoflagellates and ciliates. We are interested in disentangling the adaptations made in response to parasitism versus those that occurred in free-living ancestors and may have promoted conversion to a parasitic lifestyle. 


  • Evolution
  • Phylogenetics
  • Apicoplast
  • Molecular Biology
  • Apicomplexa
  • Functional genomics
  • Host-Pathogen Interaction
  • Pathogen Evolution
  • RNA binding proteins
  • Parasitology
  • Genome Packaging
  • Bioinformatics
  • Sequencing
  • Gene Expression
  • Metabolism
  • Gene Regulation
  • Signal Transduction


  • Toxoplasma
  • Malaria
  • Neglected tropical diseases


  • Molecular cloning
  • Advanced molecular biology techniques
  • Genome editing
  • Cell culture

Key Publications

Gornik, S.G., Febrimarsa, Cassin, A., MacRae, J.I., Ramaprasad, A., Rchiad, Z., McConville, M.J., Bacic, A., McFadden, G.I., Pain, A. and Waller, R.F. (2015) Endosymbiosis undone by stepwise elimination of the plastid in a parasitic dinoflagellate. PNAS 112(18):5767-72

Woo, Y.H., Ansari, H., Otto, T.D., Klinger, C.M., Kolísko, M., Michálek, J., Saxena, A., Shanmugam, D., Tayyrov, A., Veluchamy, A., Ali, S., Bernal, A., del Campo, J., Cihlář, J., Flegontov, P., G. Gornik, S.G., Hajdušková, E., Horák, A., Janouškovec, J., Katris, N.J., Mast, F., Miranda-Saavedra, D., Mourier, T., Naeem, R., Nair, M., Panigrahi, A.K., Rawlings, N.D., Padron-Regalado, E., Ramaprasad, A., Samad, N., Tomčala, A., Wilkes, J., Neafsey, D.E., Doerig, C., Bowler, C., Keeling, P.J., Roos, D.S., Dacks, J.B., Templeton, T.J., Waller, R.F., Lukeš, J., Oborník, M., Pain, A. (2015) Chromerid genomes reveal the evolutionary path from photosynthetic algae to obligate intracellular parasites. eLife 4:e06974 

Katris, N.K., van Dooren, G.G., McMillan, P.J., Hanssen, E., Tilley, L. and Waller, R.F.(2014) The apical complex provides a regulated gateway for secretion of invasion factors in ToxoplasmaPLOS Pathog. 10: e1004074

Danne, J.C., Gornik, S.G., MacRae, J.I., McConville, M.J. and Waller, R.F. (2013) Alveolate mitochondrial metabolic evolution: dinoflagellates force reassessment of the role of parasitism as a driver of change in apicomplexans. Mol. Biol. Evol. 30: 123-139

Jackson, C.J., Gornik, S.G. and Waller, R.F. (2013) A tertiary plastid gains RNA editing in its new host. Mol. Biol. Evol. 30(4): 788-792

Gornik, S.G., Ford, K.L., Mulhern, T.D., Bacic, A., McFadden, G.I. and Waller, R.F. (2012) Loss of nucleosomal DNA condensation coincides with appearance of a novel nuclear protein in dinoflagellates. Curr. Biol. 22(24): 2303-12

Gould. S.B., Kraft, L.G.K, van Dooren, G.G., Goodman, C.D., Ford, K.L., Cassin, A.M., Bacic, A. McFadden, G.I. and Waller, R.F. (2011) Ciliate pellicular proteome identifies novel protein families with characteristic repeat motifs that are common to Alveolates. Mol. Biol. Evol. 28: 1319-31

Gould, S.B., Tham, W-H., Cowman, A.F., McFadden, G.I. and Waller, R.F. (2008)  Alveolins, a new family of cortical proteins that define the protist infrakingdom Alveolata. Mol. Biol. Evol. 25:1219-30

Other Publications

Full Publication list