I've been involved in this European Commission FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IRSES Marie Curie Action, an International Research Staff Exchange Scheme on the topic CIliates as NAtural Reservoir of potentially PATHOgenic BACTERia: an ecological, functional and evolutionary genomic investigation.
Protists (Protozoa) such as Acanthamoeba can act as Trojan horses for opportunistic pathogens of humans and animals. Recent studies have shown that natural occurring bacterial symbionts of ciliates have a strong phylogenetic affiliation to such pathogens, like Rickettsia and Francisella. These observations raised the question whether ciliates may also represent natural reservoirs for potentially pathogenic bacteria, especially in tropical regions where the environmental conditions favor microbial growth and fast evolution. Within this framework, several groups from around the globe have been and still are cooperating to describe and investigate already known as well as newly discovered bacterial endosymbioses in ciliates. The results have been published in several peer-reviewed articles.