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Information for Researchers No. 53 | 25 October 2011
Priority Programme "Host-Parasite Coevolution – Rapid Reciprocal Adaptation and its Genetic Basis" (SPP 1399)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established the Priority Programme "Host-Parasite Coevolution – Rapid Reciprocal Adaptation and its Genetic Basis" (SPP 1399) in 2009. The programme will start its second three-year period in summer 2012.

Coevolution is reciprocal genetic change in interacting species, owing to natural selection imposed by each other. Coevolution between hosts and their parasites (including bacteria, protists and metazoan animals) is predicted to be dynamic and rapid, mainly because fitness costs caused by parasites are high, parasites are ubiquitous, and they often evolve rapidly due to short generation times.

To this end, the programme will include projects that are based on experience with the analysis of host-parasite coevolution with the aim of:

  • studying the dynamics of adaptation and counter-adaptation of hosts and parasites under different coevolutionary conditions in theoretical, field or experimental settings;
  • identifying important ecological and life-history constraints on host and parasite evolution;
  • determining the molecular genetic basis of evolving immunity and virulence;
  • identifying how genetic variability within host and parasite populations is generated and maintained.

Projects may be part of a cluster, which is centred upon a specific taxon, research question or approach, to enhance more profound understanding of coevolution based on interdisciplinary collaboration. However, individual projects that integrate into the programme are also welcome. Integration among projects will be enhanced through central bioinformatics support.

Successful proposals should comply with the following criteria:

  • The main research question is evolutionarily motivated, based on a strong theoretical foundation.
  • The project focuses on the study of animal host organisms.
  • The study system allows for experimental rather than purely correlative approaches (such approaches are possible only in combination with an experimentally accessible system within a cluster).
  • The combination of different expertise (such as evolutionary and physiological), either within a single project or within a cluster, is particularly encouraged.

The above criteria imply that proposals addressing applied, medical or agricultural questions will not be fundable through this programme.

Proposals for the second and final round of three years should be written in English. Please submit proposals (two hard copies and one copy on CD) by January 31, 2012, to the DFG, 53170 Bonn, using the keyword "Host-Parasite Coevolution" (SPP 1399). The Electronic Proposal Processing System elan is not suitable for applications within priority programmes.

Further Information

Please note the general information and proposal guidelines for research grants (DFG form 50.01) available under:

General information about the Priority Programme is available on its website:

Potential applicants are advised to contact the programme coordinator:

For procedural matters please contact the responsible programme director at the DFG: