Dr Melanie Rug

Dr Melanie Rug
CAM and MA Node Director
Life Sciences
 +61 (0)2 6125 7649



Melanie completed her studies in Biology with a Masters (Dipl. Biol.) on parasitic diseases in European crayfish. She then received her PhD from Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg, where she investigated the toxic activities of the plant Jatropha curcas against intermediate snail hosts and larvae of schistosomes, the causative agent of Bilharziosis.

Melanie's interest in parasitology brought her to Melbourne on a fellowship from the DAAD in 2000 to work at La Trobe University as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and later at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research as a Senior Research Fellow. Since arriving in Australia, she has been studying different aspects of malaria parasite induced trafficking pathways in the human red blood cell.

Melanie is a Cell Biologist with extensive experience in the application of a wide range of microscopy techniques including confocal microscopy, Transmission and Scanning Electron Microscopy (TEM, SEM) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM).

In February 2012, Melanie moved to Canberra with her family to join the Centre for Advanced Microscopy (CAM) at the ANU. 


Research interests

Melanie’s major research interest lies in understanding trafficking of exported proteins in Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes, the causative agent of malaria.

Melanie's main research focus revolves around characterising functions of individual proteins by manipulating the parasite’s genome with molecular methods (reverse genetics). The generated mutants are then studied by biochemical analysis, immunofluorescence microscopy, Transmission and Scanning Electron Microscopy techniques.

All of the instruments and expertise for these studies are available at CAM.


Selected publications

Petersen W, Külzer S, Engels S, Zhang Q, Ingmundson A, Rug M, Maier AG, Przyborski JM.
J-dot targeting of an exported HSP40 in Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytesInternational Journal for Parasitology, 2016 Apr 7. pii: S0020-7519(16)30021-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2016.03.005. [Epub ahead of print]

Tran PN, Brown SH, Rug M, Ridgway MC, Mitchell TW, Maier AG.
Changes in lipid composition during sexual development of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparumMalaria Journal, 2016 Feb 6;15(1):73. doi: 10.1186/s12936-016-1130-z.

M. Rug, M. Cyrklaff, A. Mikkonen, L. Lemgruber, S. Kuelzer, C. Sanchez, J. Thompson, E. Hanssen, M. O'Neill, C. Langer, M. Lanzer, F. Frischnecht, A.G. Maier, A.F. Cowman
Export of virulence proteins by malaria-infected erythrocytes involves remodelling of host actin cytoskeleton. BLOOD:124 (23), August 2014

D. T. George, C. A. Behm, D. H. Hall, U. Mathesius, M. Rug, K.C.Q. Nguyen, N. K. Verma
Shigella flexneri infection in Caenorhabditis elegans: Cytopathological examination and identification of host responses. PLOS ONE, 9(9), September 2014

N. Regev-Rudzki*, D. W. Wilson*, T. G. Carvalho, X. Sisquella, B. M. Coleman, M. Rug , D. Bursac, F. Angrisano, M. Gee, A. F. Hill, J. Baum, A. F. Cowman
Cell-cell communication between malaria parasites promotes sexual differentiation via exosome-like vesicles. Cell. 153(5):1120-33, May 2013
*equal contribution of both authors

E. Hanssen *, C. Dekiwadia*, D. Riglar, M. Rug , L. Lemgruber, A. Cowman, M. Cyrklaff, M. Kudryashev, F. Frischknecht, J. Baum, S. Ralph
Electron tomography of Plasmodium falciparum merozoites reveals core cellular events that underpin erythrocyte invasion. Cellular Microbiology, 15(9):1457-72, September 2013
*equal contribution of both authors

S. Külzer, M. Rug, K. Brinkmann, P. Cannon,A. Cowman, K. Lingelbach, G.L. Blatch, A.G. Maier, J.M. Przyborski
Parasite-encoded Hsp40 proteins define novel mobile structures in the cytosol of the P. falciparum-infected erythrocyte. Cellular Microbiology, 12(10): 1398-1420, October 2010

T.F. de Koning-Ward, P.R. Gilson, J.A. Boddey, M. Rug, B.J. Smith, A.T. Papenfuss, P.R. Sanders, R.J. Lundie, A.G. Maier, A.F. Cowman, B.S. Crabb
A newly discovered protein export machine in malaria parasites. Nature, 459(7249): 945-9, June 2009

A.G. Maier, M. Rug, M.T. O'Neill, M. Brown, S. Chakravorty, T. Szestak, J. Chesson, Y. Wu, K. Hughes, R.L. Coppel, C. Newbold, J.G. Beeson, A. Craig, B.S. Crabb, A.F. Cowman
Exported proteins required for virulence and rigidity of Plasmodium falciparum-infected human erythrocytes. Cell, 134(1): 48-61, July 2008

C. Spycher*, M. Rug*#, E. Pachlatko*, E. Hanssen, D. Ferguson, A.F. Cowman, L. Tilley, H.P. Beck
The Maurer's cleft protein MAHRP1 is essential for trafficking of PfEMP1 to the surface of Plasmodium falciparum-infected
erythrocytes. Molecular Microbiology,68(5): 1300-14, June 2008
*equal contribution of authors  #corresponding author

J. Baum, C.J. Tonkin, A.S. Paul, M. Rug, B.J. Smith, S.B. Gould, D. Richard, T.D. Pollard and A.F. Cowman
A malaria parasite formin regulates actin polymerization and localizes to the parasite-erythrocyte moving junction during invasion. Cell Host Microbe, 3(3): 188-98, March 2008

A.G. Maier*, M. Rug*, M.T. O'Neill, J. Beeson. J. Reeder and A.F. Cowman
Skeleton Binding Protein-1 is required for trafficking of PfEMP1 to the P.falciparum-infected erythrocyte surface. BLOOD 109(3): 1289-97, February 2007
*equal contribution of both authors

M. Rug, S. Prescott, K.M. Fernandez, B.M. Cooke and A.F. Cowman
The role of KAHRP domains in knob formation and cytoadherence of P. falciparum-infected
 human erythrocytes. BLOOD 108(1): 370-378, July 2006

E. Knuepfer, M. Rug, N. Klonis, L. Tilley and A. F. Cowman
Trafficking of the major virulence factor to the surface of transfected P. falciparum
-infected erythrocytes. BLOOD 105(10): 4078-87, May 2005

M. Marti*, R.T. Good*, M. Rug, E. Knuepfer and A.F. Cowman
Targeting malaria virulence and remodeling proteins to the host erythrocyte. Science 306:1930-1933, December 2004
*equal contribution of both authors

M. Rug, M.E. Wickham, M. Foley, A.F Cowman and L. Tilley
Correct promoter control is needed for trafficking of the ring-infected erythrocyte surface antigen
to the host cytosol in transfected malaria parasites. Infection and Immunity 72: 6095-105, October 2004

M.E. Wickham, M. Rug, S.A. Ralph, N. Klonis, G.I. McFadden, L.M.Tilley and A.F. Cowman (2001)
Trafficking and assembly of the cytoadherence complex in P. falciparum-infected human erythrocytes. The EMBO Journal 2001 Oct 15; 20(20): 5636–5649.

Reviews and Book chapters

M. Rug and A.G. Maier; The heat shock protein 40 family of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. IUBMB Life 63(12): 1081-6 December 2011

M. Rug and A. G. Maier; Transfection of Plasmodium falciparum Methods. Methods in Molecular Biology, Springer, August 2012

A. G. Maier and M. Rug; In Vitro Culturing Plasmodium falciparum Erythrocytic Stages. Methods in Molecular Biology, Springer, August 2012

Updated:  05 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Director CAM/Page Contact:  CAM Web Admin