Bryozoan endoparasite evolution

Watch the video to see myxozoan parasites wriggling around inside a bryozoan

Principal Investigator

Prof Beth Okamura

Project summary

  • Focus: Examining the evolutionary history of myxozoans and the colonial hosts they parasitise

We are examining how myxozoans have evolved to parasitise colonial hosts by considering the evolutionary history of the exploiter and exploited.

Host-parasite interactions are usually understood by looking at traditional systems, such as the malaria parasite infecting animal hosts. However, colonial animals such as bryozoans present a different model.

Bryozoans offer endoparasites a potentially unlimited, genetically homogenous resource to exploit.

We are researching:

  • morphological simplification of myxozoans (eg from active worms to sacs and plasmodia)
  • cycling between developmental stages depending on host condition
  • local adaptation between parasites and hosts
  • the origins of endoparasitism


Museum staff


Funded by

Origins, evolution and futures

We study the Earth's origins and environment, and the evolution of life.


Our scientists are investigating the taxonomy, systematics and biodiversity of groups of invertebrates.

Zoology collections

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