I went to the FLI institute in Riems Island in order to complete my Master thesis in Zoonosis and Environment with a 6-month internship. I worked under the supervision of Dr. Gereon SCHARES, in his work group, on T. gondii.
In my first year of Master degree, I worked in France also with toxoplasmosis. I produced a literature review of the parasite’s genetic diversity in Europe. For my second year of Master degree, I wanted to travel in Europe to discover a new perspective of things. Thus, the FLI and the works team of Dr. Gereon SCHARES were the ideal team to use the knowledge I acquired during my previous internship and to dig more into the subject.
In the frame of the TOXOSOURCES project (a project, supported by funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement No 773830: One Health European Joint Programme), my work first focused on the ring trial planned by the project group. This ring trial aimed to observe the disparities on typing T. gondii with the microsatellite typing technique within five European laboratories. I was able to execute all statistical analysis within this work, as well as the presentation of the results in front of the participants. This was a great opportunity of opening my relationship network as well as communicating with people from a different background.
The second task I participated in was the establishment of the parasite’s genetic diversity in Europe. Together with PhD student Maike Joeres, we received more than 1000 field isolates from all Europe. We started by extracting DNA from all of those samples, and we performed a qPCR on each of the samples to determine if it contained the parasite. Finally, we typed more than 300 isolates by the microsatellite typing technique. All of the experimental techniques presented above were theoretically learned during my school years. In the FLI, I was able to be trained by Maike and the technicians of the AG Schares (Alrik, Mareen, Suzi and Andrea) to be able to perform all these techniques on my own. Also, I had the opportunity of learning new techniques here thanks to Mareen and Alrik, as for example oocyst counting, DNA extraction from oocyst and automatic extraction. I was also able to work on other Coccidia parasite.
I am grateful for the training I received in the FLI, as well as the various opportunities presented to me. The EpiDays conferences organised in April by the FLI were a perfect opportunity to listen other teams and researches present their work. It triggered even more the interest I had in zoonosis and One Health concept. Also, I was eager to discover new insight of the genetic study in the FLI. Therefore, I have been trained by Dr. Pavlo MAKSIMOV on the new technique he uses to study T. gondii genetic variability, the Next Generation Sequencing. Even if he introduced me only the basics, I am grateful he took his time to teach me this new language and technique.
I would like to thank my supervisor Dr. Gereon SCHARES and the PhD student Maike Joeres for giving me the opportunity of working in their team. I could not thank them enough for all knowledge they provided to me and the opportunities they offered. I am sure that this stay of six months will have an impact on my career life.
This internship would not have been possible without the Förderverein financial support to cover a part of my costs, so I thank the association for helping me.
I hope I will stay in touch with the Riems team for further collaboration!