Dr Roman Biek

  • Senior Lecturer (Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine)
  • Associate - Life Sciences (School of Life Sciences)

telephone: 01413304954
email: Roman.Biek@glasgow.ac.uk

Research interests

Research Interests - Further information

Google Scholar - Publications Profile

Molecular ecology and evolution. Infectious disease dynamics in wild and domestic animal populations, with a focus on viral and bacterial pathogens. 

Grants

Grants and Awards listed are those received whilst working with the University of Glasgow.

  • Quantifying multiple strain infections for a tick-borne pathogen using next-generation sequencing (ISSF STS)
    Wellcome Trust
    2015 - 2015
     
  • Tracing transmission pathways of endemic canine rabies (ISSF Catalyst)
    Wellcome Trust
    2014 - 2015
     
  • Joint estimation of epidemiological and genetic processes for Mycobacterium bovis transmission dynamics in cattle and badgers
    Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
    2014 - 2017
     
  • Phylogeography and spatial dynamics of epidemic rabies
    National Institute of Health
    2014 - 2015
     
  • Characterising the diversity and distribution of Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme Borreliosis in Grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) in Scotland
    Glasgow Natural History Society
    2013 - 2013
     
  • Detecting population trends for tick-borne pathogens from genomic data: new tools for managing Lyme disease in Scotland (ISSF Catalyst)
    Wellcome Trust
    2013 - 2014
     
  • Centre of Expertise on Reducing the Impact of Animal Disease Outbreaks
    Scottish Government
    2011 - 2013
     
  • Phylogeography, transmission dynamics and pathogenesis of bluetongue
    Wellcome Trust
    2011 - 2016
     
  • Phylogeography and spatial dynamics of epidemic rabies
    National Institute of Health
    2010 - 2013
     
  • Centre for Integrated Virology
    MRC
    2010 - 2015
     
  • Effects of host population size and isolation on parasite distribution \r\n\r\nin a naturally fragmented host-metapopulation\r\n
    NERC
    2008 - 2011
     

Additional information

Editorial Board

  • 2011 - ongoing: Molecular Ecology - Subject Editor

Grant Advisory Board

  • 2009 - ongoing: National Institutes of Health - Fogarty International Center, member of the Research and Policy for Infectious Disease Dynamics (RAPIDD) initiative

Invited International Presentations

  • 2013: Glasgow, Scotland, UK - Conference & Workshop Organiser, "Phylodynamics of slow evolving pathogens", International RAPIDD Workshop, 4-6 September, 2013
  • 2013: Berlin, Germany - Robert-Koch Institute
  • 2013: Leipzig, Germany - Junior Scientist Zoonoses Meetings
  • 2012: Kavli Royal Society International Centre, UK - Next-generation molecular and evolutionary epidemiology of infectious disease: challenges and opportunities, Royal Society
  • 2012: USA - Annual Workshop funded by National Science Foundation, "Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases", 2008-2012
  • 2011: Bialowieza, Poland - International Conference in Landscape Genetics, Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Science
  • 2010: Washington, DC, USA - Conference & Workshop Organiser, "Estimating pathogen transmission among host species", International RAPIDD Workshop, 13-15 December, 2010
  • 2010: Sendai, Japan - International Forum on Ecosystem Adaptability: Robustness and stability of organisms and ecosystems, Tohoku University
  • 2008: Frejus, France - International workshop ("Ecole Chercheurs") on Molecular Epidemiology, Department of Animal Health of National Agronomic Research Institute (INRA)

Professional Learned Society

  • 2007 - ongoing: British Ecological Society - Member
  • 1999 - ongoing: Society for Conservation Biology - Member

Research Fellowship

  • 2007 - 2010: Kelvin Smith Fellow in Biodiversity Management

Publications

List by: Type | Date

Jump to: 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2003 | 2002
Number of items: 34.

2014

Trewby, H. et al. (2014) Analysis of the long control region of bovine papillomavirus type 1 associated with sarcoids in equine hosts indicates multiple cross-species transmission events and phylogeographical structure. Journal of General Virology, 95 (Pt 12). pp. 2748-2756. ISSN 0022-1317 (doi:10.1099/vir.0.066589-0)

Mollentze, N., Biek, R., and Streicker, D. G. (2014) The role of viral evolution in rabies host shifts and emergence. Current Opinion in Virology, 8 . pp. 68-72. ISSN 1879-6257 (doi:10.1016/j.coviro.2014.07.004)

Muir, A. P., Biek, R., and Mable, B. K. (2014) Behavioural and physiological adaptations to low-temperature environments in the common frog, Rana temporaria. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 14 (1). p. 110. ISSN 1471-2148 (doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-110)

Viana, M., Mancy, R., Biek, R., Cleaveland, S., Cross, P. C., Lloyd-Smith, J. O., and Haydon, D. T. (2014) Assembling evidence for identifying reservoirs of infection. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 29 (5). pp. 270-279. ISSN 0169-5347 (doi:10.1016/j.tree.2014.03.002)

Muir, A.P., Biek, R., Thomas, R., and Mable, B.K. (2014) Local adaptation with high gene flow: temperature parameters drive adaptation to altitude in the common frog (Rana temporaria). Molecular Ecology, 23 (3). pp. 561-574. ISSN 0962-1083 (doi:10.1111/mec.12624)

Bęczkowski, P. M., Hughes, J., Biek, R., Litster, A., Willett, B. J., and Hosie, M. J. (2014) Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) env recombinants are common in natural infections. Retrovirology, 11 (80). ISSN 1742-4690 (doi:10.1186/s12977-014-0080-1)

2013

Muir, A.P., Thomas, R., Biek, R., and Mable, B.K. (2013) Using genetic variation to infer associations with climate in the common frog,Rana temporaria. Molecular Ecology, 22 (14). pp. 3737-3751. ISSN 0962-1083 (doi:10.1111/mec.12334)

Duke-Sylvester, S.M., Biek, R., and Real, L.A. (2013) Molecular evolutionary signatures reveal the role of host ecological dynamics in viral disease emergence and spread. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 368 (1614). p. 20120194. ISSN 0962-8436 (doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0194)

2012

Brunker, K., Hampson, K., Horton, D.L., and Biek, R. (2012) Integrating the landscape epidemiology and genetics of RNA viruses: rabies in domestic dogs as a model. Parasitology, 139 (14). pp. 1899-1913. ISSN 0031-1820 (doi:10.1017/S003118201200090X)

Biek, R., O'Hare, A., Wright, D., Mallon, T., McCormick, C., Orton, R.J., McDowell, S., Trewby, H., Skuce, R.A., and Kao, R.R. (2012) Whole genome sequencing reveals local transmission patterns of mycobacterium bovis in sympatric cattle and badger populations. PLoS Pathogens, 8 (11). e1003008. ISSN 1553-7366 (doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003008)

2011

Grard, G., Biek, R., Muyembe Tamfum, J.-J., Fair, J., Wolfe, N., Formenty, P., Paweska, J., and Leroy, E. (2011) Emergence of divergent Zaire ebola virus strains in Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007 and 2008. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 204 (s3). s776-s784. ISSN 0022-1899 (doi:10.1093/infdis/jir364)

Samman, A., McMonagle, E.L., Logan, N., Willett, B.J., Biek, R., and Hosie, M.J. (2011) Phylogenetic characterisation of naturally occurring feline immunodeficiency virus in the United Kingdom. Veterinary Microbiology, 150 (3-4). pp. 239-247. ISSN 0378-1135 (doi:10.1016/j.vetmic.2011.01.027)

2010

Black, S.G. et al. (2010) Viral particles of endogenous betaretroviruses are released in the sheep uterus and infect the conceptus trophectoderm in a transspecies embryo transfer model. Journal of Virology, 84 (18). pp. 9078-9085. ISSN 0022-538X (doi:10.1128/JVI.00950-10)

Kraase, M., Sloan, R., Klein, D., Logan, N., McMonagle, L., Biek, R., Willett, B. J., and Hosie, M. J. (2010) Feline immunodeficiency virus env gene evolution in experimentally infected cats. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 134 (1-2). pp. 96-106. ISSN 0165-2427 (doi:10.1016/j.vetimm.2009.10.015 )

Biek, R., and Real, L.A. (2010) The landscape genetics of infectious disease emergence and spread. Molecular Ecology, 19 (17). pp. 3515-3531. ISSN 0962-1083 (doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04679.x)

2008

Poss, M., Ross, H., Rodrigo, A., Terwee, J., VandeWoude, S., and Biek, R. (2008) The molecular biology and evolution of feline immunodeficiency viruses of cougars. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 123 (1-2). pp. 154-158. ISSN 0165-2427 (doi:10.1016/j.vetimm.2008.01.022)

Henderson, J.C., Biek, R., Rupprecht, C.E., and Real, L.A. (2008) Rabies virus in raccoons. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 14 (4). pp. 650-652. ISSN 1080-6059

Köndgen, S. et al. (2008) Pandemic human viruses cause decline of endangered great apes. Current Biology, 18 (4). pp. 260-264. ISSN 0960-9822 (doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.01.012)

2007

Biek, R., Henderson, J.C., Walker, L.A., Rupprecht, C.E., and Real, L.A. (2007) A high-resolution genetic signature of demographic and spatial expansion in epizootic rabies virus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104 (19). pp. 7993-7998. ISSN 0027-8424 (doi:10.1073/pnas.0700741104 )

Arnaud, F. et al. (2007) A paradigm for virus-host coevolution: sequential counter-adaptations between endogenous and exogenous retroviruses. PLoS Pathogens, 3 (11). e170. ISSN 1553-7366 (doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.0030170)

Biek, R. (2007) Evolutionary dynamics and spatial genetic structure of epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus in the eastern United States. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 7 (5). pp. 651-655. (doi:10.1016/j.meegid.2007.04.005)

Biek, R. (2007) Isolates of Zaire ebolavirus from wild apes reveal genetic lineage and recombinants (vol 104, pg 17123, 2007). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104 (49). p. 19656. ISSN 0027-8424 (doi:10.1073/pnas.0710178104)

Biek, R. (2007) Spatial dynamics and genetics of infectious diseases on heterogeneous landscapes. Journal of the Royal Society: Interface, 4 (16). pp. 935-948. (doi:10.1098/rsif.2007.1041)

Wittmann, T.J., Biek, R., Hassanin, A., Rouquet, P., Reed, P., Yaba, P., Pourrut, X., Real, L.A., Gonzalez, J.-P., and Leroy, E.M. (2007) Isolates of Zaire ebolavirus from wild apes reveal genetic lineage and recombinants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104 (43). pp. 17123-17127. ISSN 0027-8424 (doi:10.1073/pnas.0704076104)

2006

Biek, R., Walsh, P.D., Leroy, E.M., and Real, L.A. (2006) Recent common ancestry of Ebola Zaire virus found in a bat reservoir. PLoS Pathogens, 2 (10). e90. ISSN 1553-7366 (doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.0020090)

Biek, R. (2006) Examining effects of persistent retroviral infection on fitness and pathogen susceptibility in a natural feline host. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 84 (3). pp. 365-373. ISSN 0008-4301 (doi:10.1139/z06-006)

Biek, R. (2006) Factors associated with pathogen seroprevalence and infection in rocky mountain cougars. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 42 (3). pp. 606-615.

Biek, R. (2006) Genetic consequences of sex-biased dispersal in a solitary carnivore: Yellowstone cougars. Biology Letters, 2 (2). pp. 312-315. (doi:10.1098/rsbl.2005.0437)

Biek, R. (2006) A virus reveals population structure and recent demographic history of its carnivore host. Science, 311 (5760). pp. 538-541. ISSN 0036-8075 (doi:10.1126/science.1121360)

2005

Real, L.A., Henderson, C.J., Biek, R., Snaman, J., Jack, T.L., Childs, J.E., Stahl, E., Waller, L., Tinline, R., and Nadin-Davies, S. (2005) Unifying the spatial population dynamics and molecular evolution of epidemic rabies virus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102 (34). pp. 12107-12111. ISSN 0027-8424 (doi: 10.1073/pnas.0500057102)

Walsh, P.D., Biek, R., and Real, L.A. (2005) Wave-like spread of Ebola Zaire. PLoS Biology, 3 (11). e371. ISSN 1544-9173 (doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030371)

2003

Biek, R. (2003) Envelope variants from women recently infected with clade A human immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 confer distinct phenotypes that are discerned by competition and neutralization experiments. Journal of Virology, 77 (15). pp. 8448-8461. ISSN 0022-538X (doi:10.1128/JVI.77.15.8448-8461.2003)

Biek, R. (2003) Epidemiology, genetic diversity, and evolution of endemic feline immunodeficiency virus in a population of wild Cougars. Journal of Virology, 77 (17). pp. 9578-9589. ISSN 0022-538X (doi:10.1128/JVI.77.17.9578-9589.2003)

2002

Biek, R. (2002) Serologic survey for viral and bacterial infections in western populations of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 38 (4). pp. 840-845.

This list was generated on Sat Dec 20 22:37:24 2014 GMT.
Jump to: Articles
Number of items: 34.

Articles

Trewby, H. et al. (2014) Analysis of the long control region of bovine papillomavirus type 1 associated with sarcoids in equine hosts indicates multiple cross-species transmission events and phylogeographical structure. Journal of General Virology, 95 (Pt 12). pp. 2748-2756. ISSN 0022-1317 (doi:10.1099/vir.0.066589-0)

Mollentze, N., Biek, R., and Streicker, D. G. (2014) The role of viral evolution in rabies host shifts and emergence. Current Opinion in Virology, 8 . pp. 68-72. ISSN 1879-6257 (doi:10.1016/j.coviro.2014.07.004)

Muir, A. P., Biek, R., and Mable, B. K. (2014) Behavioural and physiological adaptations to low-temperature environments in the common frog, Rana temporaria. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 14 (1). p. 110. ISSN 1471-2148 (doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-110)

Viana, M., Mancy, R., Biek, R., Cleaveland, S., Cross, P. C., Lloyd-Smith, J. O., and Haydon, D. T. (2014) Assembling evidence for identifying reservoirs of infection. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 29 (5). pp. 270-279. ISSN 0169-5347 (doi:10.1016/j.tree.2014.03.002)

Muir, A.P., Biek, R., Thomas, R., and Mable, B.K. (2014) Local adaptation with high gene flow: temperature parameters drive adaptation to altitude in the common frog (Rana temporaria). Molecular Ecology, 23 (3). pp. 561-574. ISSN 0962-1083 (doi:10.1111/mec.12624)

Bęczkowski, P. M., Hughes, J., Biek, R., Litster, A., Willett, B. J., and Hosie, M. J. (2014) Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) env recombinants are common in natural infections. Retrovirology, 11 (80). ISSN 1742-4690 (doi:10.1186/s12977-014-0080-1)

Muir, A.P., Thomas, R., Biek, R., and Mable, B.K. (2013) Using genetic variation to infer associations with climate in the common frog,Rana temporaria. Molecular Ecology, 22 (14). pp. 3737-3751. ISSN 0962-1083 (doi:10.1111/mec.12334)

Duke-Sylvester, S.M., Biek, R., and Real, L.A. (2013) Molecular evolutionary signatures reveal the role of host ecological dynamics in viral disease emergence and spread. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 368 (1614). p. 20120194. ISSN 0962-8436 (doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0194)

Brunker, K., Hampson, K., Horton, D.L., and Biek, R. (2012) Integrating the landscape epidemiology and genetics of RNA viruses: rabies in domestic dogs as a model. Parasitology, 139 (14). pp. 1899-1913. ISSN 0031-1820 (doi:10.1017/S003118201200090X)

Biek, R., O'Hare, A., Wright, D., Mallon, T., McCormick, C., Orton, R.J., McDowell, S., Trewby, H., Skuce, R.A., and Kao, R.R. (2012) Whole genome sequencing reveals local transmission patterns of mycobacterium bovis in sympatric cattle and badger populations. PLoS Pathogens, 8 (11). e1003008. ISSN 1553-7366 (doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003008)

Grard, G., Biek, R., Muyembe Tamfum, J.-J., Fair, J., Wolfe, N., Formenty, P., Paweska, J., and Leroy, E. (2011) Emergence of divergent Zaire ebola virus strains in Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007 and 2008. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 204 (s3). s776-s784. ISSN 0022-1899 (doi:10.1093/infdis/jir364)

Samman, A., McMonagle, E.L., Logan, N., Willett, B.J., Biek, R., and Hosie, M.J. (2011) Phylogenetic characterisation of naturally occurring feline immunodeficiency virus in the United Kingdom. Veterinary Microbiology, 150 (3-4). pp. 239-247. ISSN 0378-1135 (doi:10.1016/j.vetmic.2011.01.027)

Black, S.G. et al. (2010) Viral particles of endogenous betaretroviruses are released in the sheep uterus and infect the conceptus trophectoderm in a transspecies embryo transfer model. Journal of Virology, 84 (18). pp. 9078-9085. ISSN 0022-538X (doi:10.1128/JVI.00950-10)

Kraase, M., Sloan, R., Klein, D., Logan, N., McMonagle, L., Biek, R., Willett, B. J., and Hosie, M. J. (2010) Feline immunodeficiency virus env gene evolution in experimentally infected cats. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 134 (1-2). pp. 96-106. ISSN 0165-2427 (doi:10.1016/j.vetimm.2009.10.015 )

Biek, R., and Real, L.A. (2010) The landscape genetics of infectious disease emergence and spread. Molecular Ecology, 19 (17). pp. 3515-3531. ISSN 0962-1083 (doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04679.x)

Poss, M., Ross, H., Rodrigo, A., Terwee, J., VandeWoude, S., and Biek, R. (2008) The molecular biology and evolution of feline immunodeficiency viruses of cougars. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 123 (1-2). pp. 154-158. ISSN 0165-2427 (doi:10.1016/j.vetimm.2008.01.022)

Henderson, J.C., Biek, R., Rupprecht, C.E., and Real, L.A. (2008) Rabies virus in raccoons. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 14 (4). pp. 650-652. ISSN 1080-6059

Köndgen, S. et al. (2008) Pandemic human viruses cause decline of endangered great apes. Current Biology, 18 (4). pp. 260-264. ISSN 0960-9822 (doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.01.012)

Biek, R., Henderson, J.C., Walker, L.A., Rupprecht, C.E., and Real, L.A. (2007) A high-resolution genetic signature of demographic and spatial expansion in epizootic rabies virus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104 (19). pp. 7993-7998. ISSN 0027-8424 (doi:10.1073/pnas.0700741104 )

Arnaud, F. et al. (2007) A paradigm for virus-host coevolution: sequential counter-adaptations between endogenous and exogenous retroviruses. PLoS Pathogens, 3 (11). e170. ISSN 1553-7366 (doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.0030170)

Biek, R. (2007) Evolutionary dynamics and spatial genetic structure of epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus in the eastern United States. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 7 (5). pp. 651-655. (doi:10.1016/j.meegid.2007.04.005)

Biek, R. (2007) Isolates of Zaire ebolavirus from wild apes reveal genetic lineage and recombinants (vol 104, pg 17123, 2007). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104 (49). p. 19656. ISSN 0027-8424 (doi:10.1073/pnas.0710178104)

Biek, R. (2007) Spatial dynamics and genetics of infectious diseases on heterogeneous landscapes. Journal of the Royal Society: Interface, 4 (16). pp. 935-948. (doi:10.1098/rsif.2007.1041)

Wittmann, T.J., Biek, R., Hassanin, A., Rouquet, P., Reed, P., Yaba, P., Pourrut, X., Real, L.A., Gonzalez, J.-P., and Leroy, E.M. (2007) Isolates of Zaire ebolavirus from wild apes reveal genetic lineage and recombinants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104 (43). pp. 17123-17127. ISSN 0027-8424 (doi:10.1073/pnas.0704076104)

Biek, R., Walsh, P.D., Leroy, E.M., and Real, L.A. (2006) Recent common ancestry of Ebola Zaire virus found in a bat reservoir. PLoS Pathogens, 2 (10). e90. ISSN 1553-7366 (doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.0020090)

Biek, R. (2006) Examining effects of persistent retroviral infection on fitness and pathogen susceptibility in a natural feline host. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 84 (3). pp. 365-373. ISSN 0008-4301 (doi:10.1139/z06-006)

Biek, R. (2006) Factors associated with pathogen seroprevalence and infection in rocky mountain cougars. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 42 (3). pp. 606-615.

Biek, R. (2006) Genetic consequences of sex-biased dispersal in a solitary carnivore: Yellowstone cougars. Biology Letters, 2 (2). pp. 312-315. (doi:10.1098/rsbl.2005.0437)

Biek, R. (2006) A virus reveals population structure and recent demographic history of its carnivore host. Science, 311 (5760). pp. 538-541. ISSN 0036-8075 (doi:10.1126/science.1121360)

Real, L.A., Henderson, C.J., Biek, R., Snaman, J., Jack, T.L., Childs, J.E., Stahl, E., Waller, L., Tinline, R., and Nadin-Davies, S. (2005) Unifying the spatial population dynamics and molecular evolution of epidemic rabies virus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102 (34). pp. 12107-12111. ISSN 0027-8424 (doi: 10.1073/pnas.0500057102)

Walsh, P.D., Biek, R., and Real, L.A. (2005) Wave-like spread of Ebola Zaire. PLoS Biology, 3 (11). e371. ISSN 1544-9173 (doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030371)

Biek, R. (2003) Envelope variants from women recently infected with clade A human immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 confer distinct phenotypes that are discerned by competition and neutralization experiments. Journal of Virology, 77 (15). pp. 8448-8461. ISSN 0022-538X (doi:10.1128/JVI.77.15.8448-8461.2003)

Biek, R. (2003) Epidemiology, genetic diversity, and evolution of endemic feline immunodeficiency virus in a population of wild Cougars. Journal of Virology, 77 (17). pp. 9578-9589. ISSN 0022-538X (doi:10.1128/JVI.77.17.9578-9589.2003)

Biek, R. (2002) Serologic survey for viral and bacterial infections in western populations of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis). Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 38 (4). pp. 840-845.

This list was generated on Sat Dec 20 22:37:24 2014 GMT.

Funded Lord Kelvin-Adam Smith PhD in disease vectors
Lead: Dr Roman Biek / Closing 15 Jan 2015

[View this project description in its own page if you want to share a direct link]

Title

New tools, old ticks: uncovering the transmission biology of disease vectors through emerging technologies

Summary

This project will combine chemical physics, proteomics and disease ecology to gain novel insights into the transmission and feeding ecology of an important disease vector, the tick species Ixodes ricinus. In harnessing the power of novel technologies, including spectroscopy and proteomics, and applying them to a significant disease problem, this project will be breaking new ground at the interface of molecular, environmental, and health sciences.

Background and Aims

Vector-borne diseases account for much of the world’s health problems. In the northern hemisphere, ticks in the genus Ixodes are the principal vectors for emerging diseases including Lyme borreliosis (LB) and tick-borne encephalitis.

A striking knowledge gap with respect to tick-borne diseases is the lack of quantitative information about how ticks interact with their biotic and abiotic environment. Ixodes ticks are considered host generalists that acquire their blood meal, of which they take several throughout their life, from a wide range of vertebrate species. In the case of LB, only some species (small mammals, certain birds) are competent reservoirs, whereas others (e.g., deer) are non-competent and do not transmit. The frequency at which ticks feed on different host species within a particular environment will therefore have a profound effect on local pathogen prevalence in ticks. However, there is currently no established technology for determining retrospectively which host species a tick collected in the field has taken its blood meal from. Likewise, there is a lack of methods for determining whether a tick acquired its last blood meal one month or one year ago and thus how quickly ticks are progressing to their next life stage. These technology gaps continue to limit our mechanistic understanding of how the local environmental conditions ticks are exposed to (e.g. vertebrate host communities, climate) can drive human disease risk.

The project has three major aims:

  1. To establish the use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to age-grade free-living ticks1
  2. To apply tandem mass spectral libraries to discriminate the sources of tick blood meals in European ticks2
  3. To dissect transmission dynamics in high and low risk sites for Lyme borreliosis using the approaches developed in aims 1) and 3)

Reeves WK, Peiri KHS, Scholte E-J, Wirtz RA, and Dowell FE. 2010. Age-grading the biting midge Culicoides sonorensis using near-infrared spectroscopy. Medical And Veterinary Entomology, 24(1), 32–37. Med Vet Entomol, 2010 vol. 24 (1) pp. 32-37.

Özlem Önder, Wenguang Shao, Brian D Kemps, Henry Lam, and D. Brisson. 2013. Identifying sources of tick blood meals using unidentified tandem mass spectral libraries. Nature Communications, 4, 1746–10.

Training and Environment

The project will provide exceptional opportunities for training in state-of-the-art technologies in infectious disease research. At the same time, these technologies have much broader applicability, giving the scholar useful transferable skills for a variety of career choices in biomedical sciences.

The Wynne lab will provide training in spectroscopic techniques. Experiments will be based around a new (2014) state-of-the-art Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer from Bruker with detection capabilities from far- to near-IR. New statistical analysis methods will be implemented such as neural network analysis of the age-dependent spectra.

The Burchmore lab will offer in-depth training in the use of mass spectrometry for host blood meal identification based on proteomic signatures. This will include the potential to develop novel approaches such as the use of MALDI – TOF/TOF mass spectrometers for high throughput acquisition of spectral libraries.

Biek and Ferguson will provide guidance and training in field and lab-based ecological techniques as well as epidemiological concepts and models and their applications in the context of disease control. Due to the nature of the project the scholar will also be developing important general skills in experimental design as well as statistical and computational analyses.

The scholar will be joining a vibrant community of students and postdocs working on interdisciplinary approaches in infectious disease and life sciences, providing opportunities to develop broader scientific perspectives.  E.g. see

Requirements

Applicants should have a first or upper second class degree in a relevant science discipline (e.g. molecular biology, zoology, biochemistry, bioinformatics), be highly motivated and have excellent English communication skills. The successful candidate will need to be enthusiastic about acquiring new skills in an interdisciplinary setting and have a strong interest in biological processes as well as new technologies such as mass spec and infrared spectroscopy. Research experience, laboratory skills, knowledge about ecological fieldwork, and demonstrated ability to work independently will be considered an advantage.

Read additional background on the Lord Kelvin-Adam Smith PhD Scholarship

*In the first instance, prospective students should review the project proposal and make contact with the Lead Supervisor for the project to discuss their eligibility for the project. 

For MVLS applications we advise that any application is made via the online application system, this can be found here. Applicants should select "MVLS - Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Scholarship" for the programme of study and give the title of the project and supervisors name. *

Lead Supervisor: Dr Roman Biek

Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine

Supervisor 2: Professor Klaas Wynne

Chemistry

Supervisor 3: Dr Richard Burchmore

Parasitology

Supervisor 4: Dr Heather Ferguson

Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine