Intra-specific variation and diversification of Trichobilhazia  (Schistosomatidae) 

Left: Red Shoveler (Anas plataleapair in Argentina, Middle: Ph.D. adviser Dr. Sara Brant collecting hosts in Freestate South Africa, Right: E.T Ebbs and Dr. Sara Brant collecting specimens in Argentina 

Ebbs, E.T., Loker, E.S., Davis, N.E., Flores, V., Veleizan, A. and Brant, S.V., 2016. Schistosomes with wings: how host phylogeny and ecology shape the global distribution of Trichobilharzia querquedulae (Schistosomatidae).International journal for parasitology. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2016.04.009

Trichobilharzia (Schistosomatidae) is a speciose and globally successful group of duck parasites, a primary goal is to understand what factors have led to its success. To address these interests we have collected Trichobilharzia species from across the globe and use molecular genetic data (mtDNA, UCE loci) to estimate phylogeographic, demographic and population genetic patterns. These tools help us understand the evolutionary history and genetic makeup of these parasites species, allowing us to begin to tease apart factors may have been important to Trichobilharzia diversification, as well as other parasite groups

Schistosomatidae Phylogenomics 

Left: Austrobilharzia sp. collected in North Carolina  Middle: Ph.D. co-adviser Dr. Sam Loker and E.T. Ebbs examining raccoons collected in Lousiana for Heterobilharzia RightDendritobilharzia pulverulaenta adult collected in New Mexico

Schistosomes (Schistosomatidae) are parasites of birds and mammals of significant medical and veterinary importance. Across the family, there is substantial variation in host-use, distribution, morphology and intra-host habitat. this research aims to develop novel genetic markers to resolve evolutionary relationships among this enigmatic group of worms.  We use a sequence capture approach to target ultraconserved elements via Illumina NGS for phylogenomic analysis.   

Ebbs, E.T., Bu, L., Loker, E.S., Tkach, V.V., Davis, N.E., and Brant, S.V. Phylogenomics of Schistosomatidae. Manuscript in Prep. 

Invasion genetics of Physa acuta and implications for parasite transmission and distribution 

Left: Biomphlaria sp. shedding trematodes in Argentina  Middle: Undergraduate researcher collecting Physa acuta in New Mexico  Right: Lava Lake collection site in Montana. 

Physa acuta is a globally invasive snail native to North America, and an important host to avian schistosomes and other digenetic trematodes. Using traditional genetic markers we have characterized phylogeographic and population genetic structure within the native range of P. acuta and reconstructed its invasion history. 

Ebbs, E.T., Loker, E.S. and Brant, S.V. 2018. Phylogeography and genetics of the globally invasive snail Physa acuta Draparnaud 1805, and its potential to serve as an intermediate host to larval digenetic trematodes.  BMC Evolutionary Biology, 18:103, 

Other Publications 

F.T. Nguyen*, E.T. Ebbs, B. Hanelt. 2016. Dose-dependent mortality of Physa snails to the hairworm Paragordius varius. Submitted, Journal of Parasitology

Ebbs, E.T., Loker, E.S., Davis, N.E. and Brant, S.V. Comparative population genetics and demographic histories of three congeneric schistosomes in ducks. Manuscript In Prep. 

Ebbs, E.T., Bu, L., Loker, E.S., Davis, N.E. and Brant, S.V. Diversification and species delimitation of the globally distributed schistosome genus Trichobilharzia based on ultraconserved elements. Manuscript In Prep. 



Ebbs, E.T., Loker, E.S. and Brant, S.V. First molecular genetic evidence for the invasion of Radix auricularia into North America. Manuscript in prep. 


                My research focuses primarily on the evolutionary relationships of avian schistosomes (Schistosomatidae) and their hosts (birds and snails) and how host-specific traits (i.e. migration, distribution, habitat choice ect...) influence parasite evolution. I use a combination of traditional (mtDNA) and next-generation sequencing (Illumina HiSeq) to assess phylogeographic and population genetic patterns among parasite lineages. For more information about specific projects and publications see below. 

E.T. Ebbs. 2018. Evolutionary ecology of host-parasite relationships: Role of host ecology, phylogeny, and demographics in shaping parasite evolution. Ph.D Dissertation, University of New Mexico.