My research interests include the anthropogenic drivers of selection in farmland ecosystems and the subsequent spread of pathogens, such as Mycobacterium bovis, through the environment.
Control of bovine tuberculosis is an issue of global concern due to the economic impact from livestock production and potential for zoonotic transmission. Despite rigorous diagnostic and control efforts aimed to eradicate M. bovis from the United Kingdom, bovine tuberculosis continues to infect cattle at an alarming rate. With multiple wildlife hosts and the ability of Mycobacterium bovis to persist in the environment, understanding the interplay between hosts and the environment is crucial in developing bio-security mitigation strategies.
Therefore, the aim of my current research is to identify the major environmental sources of M. bovis using novel molecular diagnostic techniques in order to understand the routes of transmission. We use a multifaceted approach, which includes quantitative PCR, long read sequence technology, meta-genomic analysis and field surveys, to quantify and identify strain types in a range of environmental samples. This data allows us to map and model transmission dynamics within and between host and the environment with the aim to better inform current UK management strategies for this disease.