School of Life Sciences
In 2017, 33,238 cattle were slaughtered in England due to being diagnosed with bovine tuberculosis (bTB). The badger population (Meles meles) is widely implicated as being an environmental reservoir for the disease. However, research suggests that badgers and cattle rarely come into close enough contact to result in a transmission event. Therefore, it is hypothesised that badgers contaminate the environment with Mycobacterium bovis (the causal agent of bTB) through their bodily secretions, providing an indirect transmission route to the local cattle.
The focus of this PhD is to develop and contrast methods by which M. bovis can be identified within the environment – particularly in faeces. Methods include a selection of mycobacterial culture techniques as identified from the relevant literature, the development of an immunomagnetic capture method and viability qPCR. It is hoped that the methods can be applied to the natural environment to greater understand the spread and persistence of M. bovis, and the threat which the environment poses to both cattle and wildlife