Helminth-microbiota interactions in parasite gastroenteritis of livestock species and implications for disease control

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Veterinary Medicine


PhD project strategic theme: Bioscience for sustainable agriculture and food

This project aims to undertake integrated quantitative analyses to disentangle the causality of relationships between GI parasites of relevance for the UK sheep industry, the host immune system and the gut flora. To achieve this aim, the student will (i) characterise the qualitative and quantitative fluctuations in the composition of the ovine gut microbiota and selected microbe-derived bioactive metabolites in response to acute and chronic experimental infection with Teladorsagia circumcincta, and immunisation followed by parasite challenge; (ii) evaluate the impact of exposure to T. circumcincta excretory-secretory (ES) products on the composition of the ovine gut microbiome using an in vitro system developed by groups of collaborators; (iii) perform bacterial killing assays using bacterial strains selected following analysis of in vivo and in vitro data exposed to T. circumcincta ES products and (iv) identify and characterise anti-microbial proteins in T. circumcincta ES products for expression in recombinant form and subsequent functional characterisation.
Description Collaboration with the Morphew Lab at Aberystwyth University 
Organisation Aberystwyth University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have worked closely with Russ' team at Aberystwyth University. Although this has not yet been fulfilled, I am planning on welcoming another PhD student from Russ' group to work with us here in Cambridge. Here we will conduct experiments using materials brought by the collaborator, which can not be conducted using the facilities at the Aberystwyth University laboratory.
Collaborator Contribution My partners have been more than helpful with supplying us with helminth material that is fuelling many experiments in our lab at Cambridge. The collaborators also welcomed me to their lab to conduct mass spectrometry and proteomics analysis on the helminth material I previously purified. They are also actively helping me with the proteomics data anslysis and subsequent bioinformatics processes I need to produce results.
Impact Outputs are not yet published, but will be in the future.
Start Year 2021
Description Collaboration with the Nisbet Lab at Moredun Research Institute 
Organisation Moredun Research Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I have previously analysed 16s rRNA data obtained from two of their trials. This resulted in a research publication with collaborators being key authors on the paper. I am currently processing the helmith material that they have sent which should hopefully result in another publication.
Collaborator Contribution They have consistently provided me with helminth material that I process and use in my experiments, with the goal of obtaining another research paper. Collaborators have also sent me iso-seq sequence data that is proving extremely useful for bioinformatics analysis.
Impact Resulted in the publication, on which I am first author "Vaccination against the brown stomach worm, Teladorsagia circumcincta, followed by parasite challenge, induces inconsistent modifications in gut microbiota composition of lambs".
Start Year 2020