BBSRC-funded studentship: Dissecting the molecular basis of foot-and-mouth disease virus evolution

Lead Research Organisation: The Pirbright Institute
Department Name: UNLISTED


Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious disease affecting cloven-hoofed livestock. The causative agent of FMD is a small non-enveloped virus with a positive-sense RNA genome of approximately 8300 nucleotides in length. The RNA polymerase responsible for the replication of the FMD virus genome has poor proof-reading capability: consequently nucleotide changes are often introduced during replication of the virus. Analysis of full-genome sequences from field cases of FMD shows that these nucleotide changes are inherited and accrue during the course of an epidemic. This opens up the potential for using genome sequencing to reveal and identify the origin of uncertain transmission events within infection clusters. To progress our work in the area, the goal of this PhD studentship project is to investigate the FMD virus population dynamics within infected animals. This project will study the FMD virus populations present in clinical samples collected from infected animals and the results will be used to refine models that describe the transmission of FMD virus during an outbreak. Data from this project will also refine our understanding of the role of quasi-species theory in the evolution and molecular epidemiology of FMD virus.


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