Investigating the genomic basis of virus-driven host species decline

Theme: Natural & Biological Hazards

Primary Supervisor:

Trent Garner

Evolution and Molecular Ecology Theme, IOZ

Trent Garner's Profile Picture

Secondary Supervisor:

Richard Nichols

School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, QMUL

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Additional Supervisor(s):

Project Description:

Ranaviruses are pathogens of reptiles, amphibians and fish causing mass mortality and species decline. In the UK, common frogs have been experiencing this since the late 1980s and novel lineages are emerging across Europe in a variety of amphibian and reptile species.

Our recent analysies of virus genomes have detected multiple changes that may be responsible for the evolution of viral virulence. The project will exploit Illumina NGS, multilocus sequencing and Bionano Irys optical mapping technologies to investigate the evolution of virulence and host range of viruses isolated from UK and European native species, non-natives, and animals in the trade.

Hypotheses generated from genomic data can be tested in a variety of amphibian experimental systems. Specific questions will be generated with supervisors, which include Francois Balloux and Stephen Price at UCL

Policy Impact of Research:

Ranaviruses are OIE-notifiable pathogens.

Research will help to establish standards for control of virus movement through trade, identify more virulent lineages and lineage detection methods and identify genetic targets for pathogen mitigation.


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