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Evolution of wildlife disease

Research Achievements

Evolution of wildlife disease

Understanding the ecology and evolution of wildlife disease is vital for conservation efforts of Hawaii's endemic species. Trainee Kira Krend studied avian malaria on Oahu, specifically in a native Hawaiian honeycreeper surviving at low elevations where the disease in endemic is native and introduced forest birds. Kira with help from Trainee Sam Bader and Associates Randi Rhodes and Jon Winchester conducted an experimental infection of avian malaria of wild Oahu amakihi brought into captivity. Most notably, to detect and quantify the host's antibodies to avian malaria (P. relictum), Kira worked with a human malaria lab at the John A. Burns School of Medicine to modify Luminex technology assay new for use in human health and rarely used in wildlife disease research. By modifying the protocol, and taking advantage of cross-reactivity of the two malaria species, they were able to detect and quantify antibodies to P. relictum using antigens from P. falciparum (a human malaria).