Seminar: The evolution of Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157: super-shedding from cattle and predicting the relative threat to human health, Professor David Gally, Professor of Microbial Genetics, Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh
Abstract: My group studies the colonization of cattle by enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) O157 strains and aims to understand the genetic factors that lead to effective transmission between animals and infection in humans. Specifically, our recent work has applied whole genome sequencing to define the subset of animal strains that are a zoonotic threat to human health. By analyzing the genome content of both human and cattle strains we aim to predict the strains more likely to cause serious human disease and ongoing work is using machine-learning methods to acheive this. Variation and evolution of Shiga toxin (Stx)-encoding bacteriophages are a primary research area coupled to how the prophage state contributes to the overall biology of E. coli O157 in cattle and humans; this includes both their genetic payload, including sRNAs, and how their homologous sequences contribute to genome plasticity. The work is in partnership with researchers at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh; the Scottish E. coli Reference Laboratory (SERL); the Moredun Research Institute (MRI); Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC); Health Protection Scotland (HPS); Public Health England (PHE) and the USDA.
Biography: I hold a personal chair in Microbial Genetics at the University of Edinburgh and have been part of the Roslin Institute since 2011. I lead a BBSRC Institute Strategic Programme on the ‘Control of Infectious Diseases’ in Livestock (2017-2022) at the Roslin Institute. My background is in Microbiology, initially bacterial physiology for my PhD and first Post Doctoral position at the University of Michigan (cell wall assembly) but I then moved into gene regulation during a second Post Doctoral post in North Carolina and then returned to the UK supported by an MRC Career Development Fellowship which was focused on the regulation of fimbrial adhesins in E. coli. I obtained a Lectureship in Bacteriology at Edinburgh Vet School in 1998 which soon led to a DEFRA Veterinary Fellowship on the biology of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) which has remained the main research focus of my group for nearly twenty years.