HS 2020: LV 28394-01

Evolution of host parasite interactions

Lecture with exercises (2KP)

  • Structure: Weekly lectures in Fall term. Exam during last course date. Assignment of an essay.


  • Dieter Ebert, Prof.; Phone: 061 207 03 60; E-mail: dieter.ebert-at-unibas.ch (responsible lecturer)
  • Louis Du Pasquier, Prof.; E-mail: dupasquier-at-unibas.ch

Attention: In Fall 2020 this course will be online (zoom) only.

Day, time and location

  • Thursdays, 08:15-10:00; Online lectures via zoom
  • First course unit: Thursday, 17. September 2020, 08h15

Course description

The main goal of the course is to provide an in depth treatment of concepts, examples and methods in evolutionary biology of host-parasite interactions. The course starts with an introduction into basic evolutionary biology of parasitism. Transmission of infectious diseases and its relation to parasite fitness will be treated in depth. A further emphasize will be on the evolution of immune systems. From there we approach questions about parasite and pathogen evolution as well as host-parasite coevolution. The evolution of virulence and the role of transmission will receive special consideration. The back bone of the course are lectures. In the lectures we introduce the concepts and their theoretical background, explain methods and use examples from current research.

The book "Evolutionary parasitology" by Paul Schmid-Hempel (Oxford University Press, 2011) is a good textbook for the topic of the course. It does not include all aspects treated in the course.

Credit points

To pass this course and obtain the corresponding credit points, participation is required, an essay has to be written and the final exam has to be passed. The essay counts 1/3 of the final grade, the exam 2/3.

  • Date of exam: 10. or 17. December 2020
  • Time: 9h15 to 10h; (45 minutes)
  • Format of exam: currently not determined. Will be announced in the course and on this webpage. The exact date of the exam will be discussed in the course.


To pass this course and obtain the corresponding credit points, an essay has to be written. Here are some guide lines for the essay

  • Find a host-parasite system you find interesting. Any system is possible, but every student should write about a different system! Tell Dieter Ebert which system you chose ahead of time.
  • Find articles about the evolution and/or population genetics of your host-parasite system and write an essay about the evolution of the parasite/pathogen.
  • The system you write your essay about must be different from the system(s) you worked on before or the system you plan to work on for your Master thesis.
  • The maximum length of the essay is 4 pages; english, review style, cite literature, line spacing 1.5, font size 10 to 12.
  • Please do not copy/paste from articles or internet. All essays will be checked for plagiarism.
  • Submit a pdf of your article (by email to D. Ebert) and hand in a printed copy of the article to Dieter Ebert.
  • Deadline for the essay is 19. November 2020 at 10h
  • For further information about the ESSAY follow this link.


Recordings of the lectures will be placed on "switchtube".

The slides from the powerpoint used during the lectures as safed in pdf format. The script comes in 4 slides per page. The pdf will be uploaded latest 2 days before a lecture. If you have a problems with downloading a file, please contact Dieter Ebert by email as soon as possible.

PDF files of slides used by Dieter Ebert

PDF files of papers used in the course.

PDF files of slides used by Louis Du Pasquier