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Projects Proposed by Faculty of Science for the 6th call

1.- TITLE: Development of Massilia phlebovirus in sandflies and its interaction with Leishmania

 ANNOTATION: Phlebotomine sandflies (Diptera: Phlebotominae) are vectors of Leishmania parasites and viruses of the genus Phlebovirus (Bunyaviridae). The interaction between Leishmania parasites and phleboviruses has not been studied yet, despite both pathogens occurs simultaneously in sandflies and can modulate their vectorial capacity. Moreover, the natural history of phlebovirus infections in sandflies is poorly known, the interactions with the insect host and the mechanisms by which these agents are maintained in nature are not understood. Phleboviruses include human pathogens, like Toscana virus (TOSV). Closely-related and recently discovered Massilia virus is non-pathogenic to humans which makes it an optimal candidate for a new and safe laboratory model. We hypothetize that the maintenance of Massilia virus in nature does not require a reservoir host and the circulation is achieved by a combination of various transmission pathways of the virus. Using Massilia virus and the World-known collection of unique sandfly colonies at the Department of Parasitology we propose to study experimentally: i) possible routes of sandfly infection (oral, sexual, transovarial, larvae infection, co-feeding, infection of faeces and urine, ii) susceptibility of various sandfly species to Massilia virus, iii) kinetics of virus development and its organ distribution over time, iv) impact of a co-infection with Leishmania on those parameters. Methods used for quantification and localization of the virus replication will include quantitative RT-PCR,  confocal, TEM and IFAT microscopy and the New Generation Sequencing. The knowledge gained by this new model would enable to understant circulation of phleboviruses (including TOSV and other serious human pathogens) in the nature and their interaction with Leishmania within the sandfly.

 Research group: Laboratory for Vector Biology, Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague

 Contact: Prof. RNDr. Petr Volf, CSc

                  Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague

                 Viniční 7, Prague 2

                 phone + 420 221 951 815

                 e-mail: volf@cesnet.cz, petr.volf@ruk.cuni.cz)   


2.- TITLE: Effect of solid speciation at micro- and nanoscale on the contaminant leaching from smelting wastes

ANNOTATION: Waste materials from non-ferrous metal smelting industry represent important point sources of pollution. These materials (slags, fly ashes) are either deposited on dumping sites or recycled for civil engineering purposes. Due to extremely high concentrations of inorganic contaminants (metals/metalloids), there is a serious risk related to their potential release from the waste materials into the environment. The aim of this post-doc project is to evaluate the role of solid speciation of metals/metalloids at micro- and nanoscale on their leaching from a variety of waste from smelting industries worldwide (in particular from Europe and Africa). The methodology will be based on the mineralogical and geochemical characterization of selected materials from metal smelters using a combination of high-tech methods (XRD, SEM/EDS, EPMA, FIB-TEM-EDS-SAED, synchrotron-based approaches including µ-XRD, EXAFS, XANES). The results will be coupled with laboratory leaching tests and thermodynamic speciation-solubility modelling to elucidate the dynamics of transformation of smelting wastes during simulated weathering processes with emphasis on changes in solid speciation of contaminants. The outputs of the project will help to describe the fate of contaminants in the environments affected by smelting wastes (dumps, landfills, disposal sites, technical applications) and to suggest suitable scenarios for the long-term environmental stabilization of these materials.

Research group: EGG – Environmental Geochemistry Group, Institute of Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Mineral Resources, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague

Contact:  doc..RNDr.  Vojtěch Ettler, Ph.D.

                 Institute of Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Mineral Resources, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague

                 Albertov 6, 128 46 Prague 6

                 phone: + 420 221 951 493

                 e- mail ettler@natur.cuni.cz

Web pages of the research group: http://web.natur.cuni.cz/egg/ 


3. - Title:    Development of catalytic enantioselective reactions

 Annotation:    The main theme of the project is development of new catalytic systems for enantioselective additions of various nucleophiles or electrophiles to the carbonyl group of aromatic and alpha,beta-unsaturated aldehydes with Lewis bases or acids possessing chiral bipyridine scaffold. The focus will be allylations and aldol reactions providing chiral homoallyl alcohols and aldols. Since the integral part of the project will be also synthesis of natural compounds or their derivatives with interesting biological properties, it is planned that the prepared compounds will be used as crucial chiral building block in their syntheses. As far as representatives of potential synthetic targets are concerned, coibacines, papulacandine, dolikulide, and tiacumicin etc. could be considered.

Contact:         Prof. Martin Kotora

                        Department of Organic Chemistry, Faculty of Science

                        Charles University in Prague

                        Hlavova 8, 128 43 Praha 2, Czech Republic

                        Phone: +420 221 951 334

                        Fax:     +420 221 951 326

                        E-mail: kotora@natur.cuni.cz


4.- Migration of low-fraction melts and fluids in seismically active regions: numerical simulation and mechanical consequences of reactive flow

 Magma-derived fluids are considered to be a possible triggerring mechanism of earthquake sequences.  Various geodynamic settings are characterized by recurrent seismic activity that occurs in coincidence with abundant fluid degassing. This is also the case of West Bohemia earthquake swarms that suggest causal relationship to the formation of high-pressure fluids in the lithosphere. Current models, however, do not account for the effects of volume changes or phase transformations such as boiling or immiscibility, while these are associated with the largest mechanical energy release.

The postdoctoral project will concentrate on the seismogenic effect of low-fraction intergranular partial melts or aqueous-carbonic fluids, which represent the main factors responsible for hydraulic weakening of high permeability zones in the continental lithosphere. It will target the causal links between the fluid and melt migration, their mechanical and rheological consequences for initiation of mechanical instabilities, that is the seismic activity. In particular, the feedback relationships between reactive fluid flow, porosity formation and destruction, and mechanical consequences of fluid expansion and separation will be investigated in detail. The postdoctoral fellow will be responsible for: (1) the implementation of pressure-volume-temperature equations of state for aqueous-carbonic fluids applicable to high temperatures and pressures, and algorithm development algorithm for equilibrium partitioning in two-phase mixtures, pressure changes and tension effects and (2) the preparation of the two-dimensional hydrodynamic model for porous and fractured media. This project is expected to contribute to our understanding of seismicity triggering in the presence of two-phase fluids in the fractured lithosphere and various geodynamic settings, and the successful applicant will become a part of a vibrant scientific team bridging two areas of geosciences at the Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague and involving collaborators from Germany, USA and other countries.

 Contact persons: Doc. RNDr. Tomáš Fischer, Ph.D.

                                  Institute of Hydrogeology, Engineering Geol. and Applied Geophysics, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague

                                 Albertov 6, 128 43 Prague 2

                                 Phone: + 420 221 951 546                                              

                                 e-mail: tomas.fischer@natur.cuni.cz

                                 Doc. David Dolejš, Ph.D.

                                 Institute of petrology and structural geology, Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague

                                 Albertov 6, 128 43 Prague 6

                                 phone: + 420 221 951 525

                                 e-mail :david.dolejs@natur.cuni.cz

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