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An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge


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. 


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: 
Molecular Cell Biology and Evolution of Apicomplexan Parasites
 Ross   Waller

Contact Details

The Department of Biochemistry
Hopkins Buidling, Downing Site
Tennis Court Road
University of Cambridge
+44 (0)1223 766057
Takes PhD students
Not available for consultancy


Departments and institutes: 
Person keywords: 
Molecular Biology
Functional genomics
Host-Pathogen Interaction
Pathogen Evolution
RNA binding proteins
Genome Packaging
Gene Expression
Gene Regulation
Signal Transduction