The twists and turns of Toxoplasma

A unicellular parasite with a helical approach to life.

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When I tell people I study Toxoplasma, they always want to know more. So I give them a brief overview of the bug's lifecycle, and then I usually say something like, "It's a beautiful parasite, really." They laugh uncomfortably at the idea of a disease agent being aesthetically appealing, and then they walk away from me. In an effort to express my views better, wrote a blog post about the helical pattern that appears repeatedly in Toxoplasma's physiology, which is one aspect of this parasite that I think is beautiful. Spirals appear again and again in our universe, and I think it's curious and cool that even microbes can provide examples of this pattern that nature seems to love so much.

Saima Sidik

Research Associate, Whitehead Institute