Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Biomedical Sciences


Genetics and Genomics

First Advisor

Tim A. Day


The following dissertation describes work performed to probe the biology of flatworms, with a focus on anthelmintic development and target identification and validation. A wide range of molecular and computational approaches were used to achieve this goal. In particular, I show how free-living planaria can be utilized as a model for its parasitic relatives, for answering biological questions and for anthelmintic screening techniques. Through a variety of approaches, I also contribute to the ongoing study and annotation of a large group of flatworm-specific G protein-coupled receptors, the Platyhelminth-Specific Rhodopsin-Like Orphan Family. This family is specific to the flatworms, is the largest clade of GPCRs and the largest taxonomically-restricted gene family in the entire phylum, and a PROF representative may be preferentially expressed in the neural tissue of planaria. Finally, using the PROF as a case study, I comment on the task of functionally annotating GPCRs from parasitic worms and suggest a more wholistic and rigorous approach. The entirety of this dissertation is then discussed, and the results are reinterpreted through a lens that focuses on anthelmintic discovery and development.


Copyright Owner

Nicolas James Wheeler



File Format


File Size

151 pages