Dr. Tobias SpielmannArbeitsgruppe Spielmann (Malaria)Tel.: +49 40 42818-486
E-Mail: spielmann(at)

Laura ZimmermannPresse & ÖffentlichkeitsarbeitTel.: +49 40 42818-264
E-Mail: presse(at)


| 14.03.2017

New Genetic System to Study Parasite Protein Function

Kelch13 localisation in P. falciparum
The parasite protein Kelch13 (arrows + arrowheads) was via Selection Linked Integration (SLI) coupled with a green fluorescent marker protein and thus for the first time visible in P. falciparum parasites (three red round shapes). These malaria parasites live in red blood cells (grey-red shapes). Image was taken with a FluoView 1000 confocal microscope (Olympus).

Publication in Nature Methods

Hamburg, March 14, 2017 – The agent causing the severest form of human malaria, the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, has been known for more than a century but the functions of more than half of its 5.500 genes remain unknown. A new method now permits scientists of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropcial Medicine (BNITM) to rapidly determine whether a gene is essential for the survival of the malaria parasite and where the corresponding gene product (i.e. the protein) is located in the parasite cell. This new technique was published in the journal Nature Methods.

Dr. Tobias Spielman, group leader at BNITM highlights: “Our new method, named Selection Linked Integration (SLI), allowed us for the first time to localize Kelch13, the protein associated with resistance to artemisinin, the most important malaria drug.”


Jakob Birnbaum, Sven Flemming, Nick Reichard, Alexandra Blancke Soares, Paolo Mesén-Ramírez, Ernst Jonscher, Bärbel Bergmann & Tobias Spielmann. A genetic system to study Plasmodium falciparum protein function; Nature Methods; Advance Online Publication 13 March 2017

About BNITM:
The Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) is Germany’s largest institution for research, services and training in the field of tropical diseases and emerging infections. The current scientific focus is on malaria, haemorrhagic fever viruses, tissue nematodes and diagnostics development. To study highly pathogenic viruses and infected insects, the institute is equipped with laboratories of the highest biosafety levels (BSL4) and a BSL3 insectary. BNITM comprises the National Reference Centre for Tropical Pathogens and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Arbovirus and Haemorrhagic Fever Reference and Research. Together with the Ghanaian Ministry of Health and the University of Kumasi, it runs a modern research and training centre in the West African rainforest, which is also available to external research groups.