Detecting cryptic infection to understand the spread of an invasive wildlife disease

Theme: Biodiversity, Ecology & Conservation

Primary Supervisor:

Richard Nichols

School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, QMUL

Richard Nichols's Profile Picture

Secondary Supervisor:

Trent Garner

Evolution and Molecular Ecology Theme, IOZ

Trent Garner's Profile Picture

Project Description:

Amphibian biodiversity is threatened by a range of pathogens, but in Britain, only one has been shown to be responsible for amphibian declines: ranaviruses. For 30 years, we have tracked the distribution of unusual amphibian mortality events caused by ranaviruses and identified cofactors that determine how severe a disease outbreak may be. Despite this, we still don’t truly understand the risk ranavirosis poses to the one species known to experience population declines in Britain, the common frog. You can change this. In this project, you can take advantage of our recently developed non-lethal sampling method to generate data to test our current models of how climate change has led to shifts in the virus distribution. You will be able to develop agent-based models to investigate the true prevalence and virulence of ranaviruses in wild frog populations and explore how frog immunity and other traits dictate infection and disease outcomes. Opportunities also exist for pathogen genotyping in concert with a 170+ WGS ranavirus database we have available and experimental studies of infection, disease, and pathogen evolution.

Policy Impact of Research:

You will be the researcher that informs UK amphibian conservation strategies for the management of ranavirosis, and establish your career as a wildlife infectious disease researcher.

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