A Systems Biology Approach to controlling Nematode Infections of Livestock

Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) funded by the EC – NematodeSystemHealth

Sheep pic for Stear/Matthews Nematode PhD advertNematodes represent a major threat to the health and welfare of livestock as well as the sustainability of livestock farming. Current control measures involve anthelmintic treatment but this is threatened by the evolution of drug resistance in parasite populations. Alternative control measures are urgently needed. The most promising strategy is the exploitation of genetic variation in resistance to nematode infection. This involves either selective breeding or use of relatively resistant breeds. Selective breeding has been used successfully in Australia and New Zealand. There are two barriers to the widespread exploitation of genetic resistance: many farmers lack the necessary expertise in quantitative genetics and concern about potentially harmful side-effects of genetic resistance. Additional quantitative research is necessary to address these concerns. A systems biology approach is necessary to intgrate the information from many different disciplines into a coherent and consistent description of the host-parasite interaction. The objectives were: to advance our understanding of host-nematode interactions, to use the enhanced understanding to control nematode infections of livestock, to train researchers with the necessary skills to understand and control nematode infections and to apply nematode control on selected farms within Europe.

Summary Report

The NematodeSystemHealth project had four aims: to advance our understanding of host-nematode interactions; to apply the enhanced understanding to control nematode infections of livestock; to train researchers with the necessary skills to understand and control nematode infections and to apply nematode control on selected farms within Europe.

All these aims were met. We carried out a variety of research covering host nematode interactions that included epidemiology, quantitative and molecular genetics, immunology, pathology and parasite biology. This research has resulted in multiple publications and additional manuscripts are being prepared for publication. We have created a mathematical model of the infection process that is data-driven and immunologically and genetically explicit. This model is a considerable advance on the field and it has allowed us to explore practical farming situations. In particular, the model predicts a relatively rapid response to deliberate selection for host resistance to nematodes. This improves our ability to control nematode infections of livestock. We have addressed several meetings of livestock breeders where these results were disseminated. We have trained a variety of researchers at postgraduate and postdoctoral level and these graduates are moving into a variety of positions in Europe and beyond. Finally, many farms are applying some of the results of the project to improve animal health and welfare. These farms include Lleyn breeders in the UK and Churra breeders in Spain.

The provision of advanced training of multiple researchers was a key success of the Marie Curie project. At Glasgow University (GLA), Joaquin Prada Jiménez de Cisneros has become a very competent mathematical biologist capable of applying advanced mathematical and statistical models to the analysis of parasitological data. In particular, he analysed the relationship between nematode-specific IgA activity in the plasma and the mucus and showed that the plasma concentrations reflect activity in the mucus and also the mass (number and size) of parasites in the abomasum. These results allowed us to develop IgA activity as a diagnostic test of nematode resistance. Joaquin also extended a model of the host-parasite interaction into an individual-based tool to explore nematode control. This model demonstrated that the response to selection will be more effective if selection is based on IgA rather than the traditional faecal egg count. Farmers in Europe are now starting to use IgA activity to assess resistance to nematodes. He has three published papers and three more under review. He submitted his thesis and is now working at Princeton University.

Also at GLA, Thorsten Stefan looked at the most important genetic region for parasite resistance and by recreating the last 40 million years of evolution, he was able to demonstrate that the key process that maintains genetic variation at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is divergent allele advantage. This was a stunning achievement that has solved a major biological problem. This work advances our understanding and allows us to utilise the MHC in genomic selection for the first time. Thorsten has three published papers and three more under review. He is about to submit his thesis and is now working at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart.

At INRA Tours, Caroline Chylinski explored the factors that determine parasite success. Parasite fitness is influenced by anthelmintic resistance, response to resistant sheep, density-dependent effects, L3 age effects, and the L3 capacity to withstand desiccation. Each of these factors reduce fitness by acting on differing life-history traits. Host gender is also important: males express Th2 related cytokines more strongly than females while females had greater expression of genes associated with mucosal barrier defense (TFF3, Galectin 15, Intelectin 2). There appears to be no evidence of pain in response to H. contortus infection. Host temperature may hold some predictive value in determining the infection outcome. Her sociological research suggests that effective dissemination is essential for effective parasite control. Caroline has published 4 papers and has another 4 under review. She has been awarded her PhD and is exploring future options.

At INRA Toulouse, Fabrizio Assenza explored genetic variability, in both sheep and goats in parasite resistance. The estimated heritabilities, genetic correlations and QTL effects confirmed the existence of substantial variation and that marker assisted selection could enhance the selection response. This work has been published in Genetics, Selection, Evolution the top journal in Animal Science. Fabrizio has been awarded his PhD.

Marina Atlija at the University of Leon (ULEON) examined the molecular genetic basis of resistance to nematode infection using a wide range of techniques from diagnostic parasitological tools through molecular genetics and bioinformatics to sophisticated statistical and mathematical modelling. Marina has submitted one manuscript and has another three in preparation. She plans to submit her PhD in early spring.

Agris was unable to recruit researchers due to local prohibition on hiring staff. The two positions were eventually transferred to ULEON and to University College Dublin (UCD). Praveen Krishna Chitneedi was employed at University of Leon for 15 months working on detection of genes for resistance to nematodes in Churra sheep using a genome-wide association analysis with direct SNP typing and imputation. He has two manuscripts in preparation.

UCD also experienced problems with recruitment but was eventually able to attract Rocco Sebastiano to research the immunogenetic and nutritional basis of resistance to nematode infection in resistant and susceptible sheep. The results indicated that the resistant sheep respond more rapidly to infection. This has now been accepted for publication in Veterinary Research which is one of the most cited journals in Veterinary Science. UCD were unable to make a second appointment.

LfL Germany recruited 3 researchers but for family reasons and homesickness all three researchers returned home before completing their PhD. Their joint research has led to an improved system for typing molecular genetic variation at the MHC which is the most important genetic region for resistance in sheep. In addition, LfL hosted three-month visits for T. Stefan and M. Atlija and have three manuscripts in preparation.

Mahlet Teka at the University of Wageningen developed an equation that shows individual’s breeding value and heritable variation for the basic reproduction ratio, R0. R0 is the key parameter describing the risk in severity of epidemics. Breeders can substantially increase responses to selection against infectious diseases by basing selection decisions on data collected from groups composed of family members. She also developed the statistical methodology to estimate gene effects on susceptibility, infectivity and R0 from data on transmission experiments. A Generalized Linear Model (GLM) with a complementary log-log link function and a binomial error function is suitable for estimating relative gene effects for susceptibility, infectivity and R0. The model was developed from an equation that describes the probability of an individual to become infected as a function of its own susceptibility genotype and of the infectivity genotypes of its infected group mates. The resulting method is a tool for genome-wide association studies (GWAS) aiming to identify host genes affecting the risk and severity of infectious diseases in populations.

Hamed Rashidi at Wageningen University studied the quantitative genetics of resistance and tolerance. He also worked closely with TOPIGS (now TOPIGS Norsvin) to develop a challenge load indicator to detect disease outbreaks. This methodology enables selection on resilience, animals that do not have large reductions in performance during disease outbreaks either because of resistance or tolerance. Hamed Rashidi completed his 3-months stay in Glasgow, where he estimated genetic parameters for resistance and tolerance to nematodes in sheep. He found a strong negative genetic correlation between resistance and tolerance: sheep that are genetically more resistant are less tolerant. This research has been submitted to Genetics one of the top journals in Genetic research.

Juanma Herrero at TOPIGS Norsvin used reproduction records from several countries to detect outbreaks of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRS) in pigs. The outbreaks detected using statistical approaches were confirmed using clinical signs and available diagnostic tests for PRRS and other diseases. The method was used for outbreak detection using phenotypic data, genetic parameter estimation during disease and healthy periods using a bivariate approach, and genetic parameter estimation for a range of challenges using a random regression approach. Data consisted of 3,518,222 records from 447 farms. There were higher variances due to permanent-environment and service-sire effects during disease phases. The additive genetic variance increased as overall challenge load increased. Heritability was highest at extremes of the challenge and non-challenge phases. Genetic correlations decreased as the contrast in challenge load increased.

Beth Schmidt spent 3 months with David Eckersall at Reactivelab and worked closely with UGLA. Acute phase protein concentrations in 14 dogs naturally infected with the giant kidney worm parasite (Dioctophyme renale) Haptoglobin levels were significantly higher 28 days after nephrectomy. In contrast, no significant haptoglobin and SAA response was observed in 29 dogs naturally infected with nematodes of Ancylostoma spp. Thirty dogs submitted to minimal invasive and conventional ovariohysterectomy were evaluated at 4 different time points and only Hp concentration was significantly increased 24 and 48 hours after minimal invasive surgery. Haptoglobin levels in Johnes Disease, Bovine Viral Diarrhea, and Chronic Pneumonia were significantly different from controls.

In summary, the NematodeSytemHealth project has trained a cadre of researchers in quantitative and molecular methods who have made substantial contributions to our understanding of disease, especially parasitic infections of livestock. This cadre is well placed to make an important contribution to understanding and controlling parasitic infections in the future. 
For further details contact the coordinator, Professor Stear.


Publications

  • Prada de Cisneros, J., Matthews, L., Mair, C., Stefan, T., Stear. M.J. (2014) The transfer of IgA from mucus to plasma and the implications for diagnosis and control of nematode infections. Parasitology 141, 875-879.
  • Prada Jiménez de Cisneros, J., Stear, M. J. Mair, C., Stefan, T., Marion, G. and Matthews, L. An explicit immunogenetic model of gastrointestinal nematode infection in sheep. Interface, In Press.
  • Mair, C., Matthews, L., Prada J. de Cisneros, J., Stefan,T. Stear, M.J. (2014). Multitrait indices to predict worm length and number in sheep with natural, mixed predominantly Teladorsagia circumcincta infection. Parasitology (In press). 
  • Gaba S, Cabaret J, Chylinski C, Sauvé C, Cortet J, Silvestre A (2012). Can efficient management of sheep gastro-intestinal nematodes be based on random treatment? Vet. Parasitol. 190 (1-2): 178 – 184. 
  • Cabaret J., Chylinski C., Vaarst M. The Freedoms and Capabilities of Farm Animals: How Can Organic Husbandry Fulfill Them? In: Organic Farming, Prototype for Sustainable Agricultures. Eds. S. Bellon, S. Penvern. Springer. 2014.
  • Chylinski C, Lherminé E, Coquille M, Cabaret J. (2014). Desiccation tolerance of gastrointestinal nematode third stage larvae: exploring the effects on fitness and the factors influencing survival. Parasitol. Res. 113 (8) 2789-2796. 
  • Chylinski C, Cortet J, Neveu C, Cabaret J. (2015) Exploring the limitations of pathophysiological indicators used for Targeted Selective Treatment in sheep experimentally infected with Haemonchus contortus. Vet. Parasitol. 207 (1-2): 85-93. 
  • Assenza, F., Elsen, J.M., Legarra, A., Carre, C., Salle, G., Robert-Granie, C., Moreno, C.R., 2014, Genetic parameters for growth and faecal worm egg count following Haemonchus contortus experimental infestations using pedigree and molecular information. Genet Sel Evol 46, 13. 
  • A.M Ahmed, R.S. Sebastiano et al., 2015 Breed differences in humoral and cellular responses to experimental infection of lambs with the gastrointestinal nematode Teladorsagia circumcincta Veterinary research 46: 8-17.
  • Anche M., de Jong M., Bijma P., (2014) On the definition and utilization of heritable variation among hosts in reproduction ratio R0 for infectious diseases, Heredity. 113 (2014) 364-374.
  • Herrero-Medrano, J. M., P. K. Mathur, J. Ten Napel, H. Rashidi, P. Alexandri, E. F. Knol, and H. A. Mulder. 2015. Estimation of genetic parameters and breeding values across challenged environments to select for robust pigs. J. Anim. Sci. doi:10.2527/jas2014-8583.
  • Mathur, P. K., J. M. Herrero-Medrano, P. Alexandri, E. F. Knol, J. Ten Napel, H. Rashidi, and H. A. Mulder. 2014. Estimating challenge load due to disease outbreaks and other challenges using reproduction records of sows. J. Anim. Sci. 92:5374-5381.
  • Rashidi, H., H. A. Mulder, P. Mathur, J. A. M. van Arendonk, and E. F. Knol. 2014a. Variation among sows in response to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. J. Anim. Sci. 92:95-105.
  • Herrero-Medrano, J.M., Mathur, P.K., ten Napel, J., Rashidi H., Alexandri P., Knol, E.F., & Mulder H.A. Estimation of genetic parameters and breeding values across challenged environments to select for robust pigs. J. Anim. Sci. (In press)
  • Mathur, P. K., J. M. Herrero-Medrano, P. Alexandri, E. F. Knol, J. ten Napel, H. Rashidi, and H. Mulder. 2014. Estimating challenge load due to disease outbreaks and other challenges using reproduction records of sows. J. Anim. Sci. 92:5374-81.
  • Eckersall, PD.; Schmidt, EMS. The final hurdles for acute phase protein analysis in small animal practice. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 55: 1-3, 2014. 
  • Schmidt, EMS; Eckersall, PD. Acute phase proteins as markers of infectious diseases in small animals. Acta Veterinaria (Beograd), in press, 2015.

Submitted

  • Schmidt E, Chylinski C, Gruner L, Cabaret J. Resistant sheep select for increased fitness in their parasitic nematodes (Teladorsagia circumcincta): Experimental evidence. Under review. 
  • Chylinski C, Blanchard-Letort A, Neveu C, Cortet J, Cabaret J. Exploring the fitness costs of anthelmintic resistant Haemonchus contortus and their interaction with resistant sheep. Under review. 
  • Caroline Chylinski, Jacques Cortet, Didier Crochet, Jacques Cabaret. Do gastrointestinal nematodes cause pain in their sheep host. Under review.
  • Cabaret J, Chylinski C, Meradi S, Leignel G, Nicourt C, Bentounsi B, Benoit M. The influence of farmer autonomy on gastrointestinal nematode infection in semi-extensive meat sheep farms. Submitted.
  • Anche M., de Jong M., Bijma P., On the definition and utilization of heritable variation among hosts in reproduction ratio R0 for infectious diseases, Heredity. 113 (2014) 364-374.

Dissemination

The principal method of dissemination was presentations by Marie Curie Fellows to international and national meetings. These are listed below. Following this list there is a description of public engagement activities.

Joaquin Jiménez de Cisneros Prada
  • "An explicit immunogenetic model of gastrointestinal nematode infection in sheep", British Society of Parasitology Spring meeting, 2014, Cambridge, UK Oral presentation (Active).
  • "Immuno-epidemiological models predict novel markers for parasite resistance", Epidemics4 – Fourth International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics, 2013, Amsterdam, Holland Oral presentation (Active).
  • "Modelling resistance against gastrointestinal nematodes in sheep: Theoretical considerations and practical solutions", XXIIIth Congress of the Polish Parasitological Society, 2013, Szklarska Poręba-Piechowice, Poland Oral presentation (Active).
  • "Modelling resistance against gastrointestinal nematodes in sheep: Theoretical considerations and practical solutions", Population Genetics Conference, 2012, Glasgow, UK Oral presentation
  • "IgA better than FEC to indicate resistance in naturally infected lambs", British Society of Parasitology Spring meeting, 2011, Glasgow, UK Oral presentation (Active).
  • Association of Veterinary Teaching and Research Work Annual Conference, 2013, Nottingham, UK Poster (Active).
  • Society of Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine Annual Meeting, 2013, Madrid, Spain Poster (Active).
Thorsten Stefan
  • Boyd Orr Conference 2014 (Glasgow, Jul. 2014) Talk (Active).
  • PopGroup 47 (Population Genetics conference, Bath, Jan. 2014) Poster (Active)
  • Epidemics4 – Fourth International Conference on Infectious Disease Dynamics (Amsterdam, Nov. 2013) Poster (Active)
  • Boyd Orr centre conference (Glasgow, May 2013) Talk (Active) 
  • BSAS/AVTRW Conference on Animal Science (Nottingham, Apr. 2013) Talk (Active)
  • Society of Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (SVEPM) Annual Meeting (Madrid, Mar. 2013) Poster (Active)
  • PopGroup 46 (Population Genetics conference, Glasgow, Dec. 2012) Talk (Active)
Caroline Chylinski
  • Journée des Nématodes Congrès, Tours, France September 2013. Factors reducing fitness in gastrointestinal nematodes (Active).
  • World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology, Perth, Australia, August 2013. Do infections by gastrointestinal nematodes induce pain in their sheep hosts? (Active).
  • British Society of Parasitology, Bristol, UK, April 2013. Resistant sheep select for increased fitness in Teladorsagia circumcincta: experimental evidence. (Active).
  • XI EUROPEAN MULTICOLLOQUIUM OF PARASITOLOGY, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, July 2013. Determining the best sheep host protective strategy to combat infection by the nematode Haemonchus contortus: Is resistance futile? Won first place in the Young Scientist Award. (Active).
  • BIOSTEC Biodevices Conference, Vilamoura, Portugal, February 2012. Non-invasive core temperature transponders as a problem alert in sheep farming (Poster presentation). (Active)
  • Micro-organisms and their Environment Conference, Muséum Mational d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France, October 2011. What the internal temperature of sheep hosts may tell us about the evolution of Haemonchus contortus nematode infections. (Active).
  • British Society for Parasitology, Cambridge, April 2014: Farmer control of gastrointestinal parasites: why they do what they do? Cabare J., Chylinski C., Duperray F., Meradi S., C., Bouilhol M., Berrag B., Salle G., Nicourt C. (Passive).
  • Développement & innovation en agriculture biologique (DinABio) Tours, France November 2013. La mortalité des agneaux: entre déni et impuissance des éleveurs? Cabaret J, Chylinski C, Laignel G, Nicourt C, Benoit M. (Passive)
  • Parasites et Champignons du Bassin Méditerranéen: Des données évolutives au contrôle, Rabat, Morocco, October 2013. Les traitements anthelminthiques sélectifs ciblés : quel intérêt pour la gestion des infestations par les strongles des ovins ? Cabaret J, Chylinski C, Berrag B, Bentounsi B, Meradi S, Bouilhol M. (Passive)
  • World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology, Perth, Australia, August 2013. The influence of farmer autonomy on the control of gastrointestinal nematode infection in semi-extensive meat sheep farms. Cabaret J, Chylinski C, Meradi S, Laignel G, Nicourt C, Bentounsi B, Benoit M. (Passive)
  • XXI Encuentro Rioplatense de Veterinarios Endoparasitologos. Rosario, Argentina, May 2012, 2012. Resistencia de ovinos frente a infestación experimental por estrongilidos y su relación con resistencia a los antihelmínticos. Chylinski C, Cortet J, Sauvé C, Blanchard-Letort A, Neveu C, Cabaret J. (Passive)
Fabrizio Assenza
  • Assenza, F., Elsen, J., Bishop, S.C., C.Carré, Moreno, C., 2013. Sensitivity analysis by radial design applied to a host-interaction model for predicting the impacts of gastrointestinal parasitism in lactating sheep In: EAAP, Nantes, France, 26-30 August. Oral (Active)
  • Assenza, F., Elsen, J., Legarra, A., Carré, C., Sallé, G., Robert-Granié, C., Moreno, C., 2013. Heritability and genetic correlations between growth traits and faecal egg counts following experimental infestations of lambs with H.contortus: a comparison of estimates obtained by using either pedigree information or molecular information. In: EAAP, Nantes, France, 26-30 August. POSTER (Active)
  • Assenza, F., Elsen;, J.-M., Legarra, A., Carré, C., Sallé, G., Robert-Granié, C., Moreno, C., 2013. Heritability and genetic correlations between growth traits and faecal egg counts following experimental infestations of lambs with H.contortus: a comparison of estimates obtained by using either pedigree information or molecular information. In: Journée de la statistique, Toulouse. ORAL (Active) 
Marina Atlija
  • Atlija M, Gutierrez-Gil B, Martinez-Valladares M, de la Fuente LF, Arranz JJ. 2013. Barrido genómico con el SNP-chip ovino 50k para la detección de QTL con influencia sobre la resistencia a nematodos intestinales en el ganado ovino de raza Churra: análisis de ligamiento para el recuento de huevos en heces. (Active)
  • 15th National Conference on Animal Production. 14-15 May. Zaragoza, Spain. (Active)
  • Atlija M, Arranz JJ, Martinez-Valladares M, Gutierrez-Gil B. 2014. Search of genomic region influencing faecal egg count, as an indicator of resistance to gastrointestinal nematode infections, based on the analysis of the OvineSNP50 BeadChip. 10th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production. 17-22 August. Vancouver, Canadá. (Passive).
  • Marina Atlija1, Beatriz Gutiérrez Gil1, Francisco A. Rojo-Vázquez2,3, Juan José Arranz1, María Martínez Valladares2 Diagnóstico de nematodos gastrointestinales en ovejas con bajas cargas parasitarias y su relación con factores climáticos. (Passive)
  • XVIII Congreso de la Sociedad Española de Parasitología. Gran Canaria 17-20 de Septiembre de 2013. (Passive) 
P. K. Chitneedi
  • Chitneedi P.K., Atlija M. Arranz, J.J. y Gutiérrez-Gil, B. 2015. GWAS analysis for gastrointestinal nematodes resistance traits using imputed high density chip genotypes in sheep. Accepted for Oral Communication for the XVI National Production Animal Conference, to be held in Zaragoza, Spain. 19-20th May 2015.
R. Sebastiano
  • EMIG 2012 (European mucosal immunology group meeting) Dublin (Passive)
  • Sheep 2012, 2014 Teagasc, Athenry, Co. Galway, Ireland (Active)
  • National Sheep Conference 2014, Athlone, Ballyraine, Co. Donegal, Ireland (Passive)
  • CBF, Teagasc & Irish Farmers Journal Animal Genomics User Conference 2015 (Passive)
  • Ag research Tullamore 2015 (Active).
M. Teka
  • Anche M., de Jong M., Bijma P., Identifying factors underlying heritable variation and response to selection in R0: simulation study. Book of Abstracts of the 64th Annual meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP). 2013.
  • Anche M., de Jong M., Bijma P., Definition and utilization of among hosts heritable variation in reproduction ratio R0 for infectious diseases. Proceedings, 10th World Congress of Genetics Applied to Livestock Production. 2014.
  • 4th International Conference on Quantitative Genetics, Edinburgh, 2012. (no presentation)
  • 64th Annual meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP). Nantes. 2013. (oral presentation)
  • 10th World Congress of Genetics Applied to Livestock Production. Vancouver, 2014. (oral presentation)
Hamed Rashidi
  • 63rd Annual meeting of EAAP, Bratislava, Slovakia, 27-31 August, 2012
  • 10th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Vancouver, Canada, 17-22 August 2014.
  • Rashidi, H., H. A. Mulder, P. K. Mathur, J. A. M. Van Arendonk, and E. F. Knol. 2012. Between sow variation in tolerance in response to Porcine Reproduction and Respiratory Syndrome. Page 72 in Proc. 63rd Annual meeting of EAAP, Bratislava, Slovakia, 27-31 August, 2012.
  • Rashidi, H., H. A. Mulder, J. A. M. Van Arendonk, M. C. M. De Jong, and M. J. Stear. 2014b. Genetics of tolerance and resistance to nematode infection in sheep. in Proc. 10th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Vancouver, Canada. 
JM Herrero-Medrano
  • Mathur P. K., JM Herrero-Medrano, P Alexandri, H Rashidi, H Mulder, EF Knol. 2014 Genetic selection for disease tolerance and robustness. Proceedings of the 23rd IPVS Congress, Cancun, Mexico, June 8-11, 2014, pp 298.
  • Mathur, P.K., Herrero-Medrano, J.M., Alexandri P., Knol, E.F., Rashidi H., Mulder H.A. & ten Napel, J. (2014). Genetic Evaluation for Disease Resistance and Tolerance in Pigs using Reproduction Records. Proceedings, 10th World Congress of Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Vancouver, Canada, 17 - 22 August 2014 No: 088.
Beth Schmidt
  • ISACP 2014 (16th Biennial Congress of the International Society for Animal Clinical Pathology) – Copenhagen, Denmark (June/2014) Key note presentation “Parasitological infections and the inflammatory process (Active).
  • 15th ESVCP – European Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology Annual Congress - Berlin, Germany (November/2013) (Active)
  • 23rd ECVIM – CA (European College of Veterinary Medicine – Companion Animal Congress) – Liverpool, UK (acute phase proteins scientific sessions) (September/2013) (Passive).

In addition, all students gave talks at the Marie Curie Conferences in 2012, 2013, and the international conference hosted by the project in 2014.

There were a series of public engagement meetings held with breeders, agricultural consultants and veterinarians held to inform potential users of this research. These meetings included Suffolk breeders (Ireland 13th May 2014) Lleyn breeders (23rd June and 4th December England). A further meeting with Scottish Blackface breeders will be held on 11th March 2015. In addition we will address the Sheep Breeders Round Table in November 2015; this is an international meeting of sheep breeders. Meetings with veterinarians were held in Scotland, England, Spain, France and Ireland. A meeting of breeders was also held in the Netherlands.


Original Project Descriptions

The ITN consisted of 12 PhD studentships and 2 postdoctoral positions. 

  1. University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK – Louise Matthews and Mike Stear – Comparative mathematical models of selection for parasite resistance.
  2. University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK – Mike Stear and Louise Matthews – Modelling the immune response to nematode infections.
  3. University of Leon, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Spain – J. J. Arranz and F. Rojo-Vazquez – Fine mapping of QTL underlying parasite resistance in Spanish Churra sheep.
  4. INRA Tours, France – J. Cabaret, C. Neveu and P. Jacquiet – What makes a parasitic nematode successful?
  5. INRA Toulouse, France – Carole Moreno and P. Jacquiet – Genetics of resistance to mastitis and nematodes in sheep.
  6. AGRIS, Sardinia Italy – A. Carta, S. Casu and A. Scala – Discovering genes involved in gastro-intestinal nematode parasite resistance of sheep by using microsatellites and SNP array data.
  7. AGRIS, Sardinia Italy – A. Carta, S. Casu and A. Scala – Relationships between  gastro-intestinal Nematode parasite resistance and other traits of economic relevance in dairy sheep.
  8. University College Dublin, Ireland, Veterinary Biosciences Centre and Teagasc, Sheep Research Centre – T. Sweeney and JP. Hanrahan – Comparative analysis of genetic resistance to gastrointestinal nematodes in Texel and Suffolk sheep breeds.
  9. Wageningen University, Netherlands – A. Kause, J. Van Arendonk and H. Bovenhuis – Selection for tolerance or resistance?
  10. Wageningen University, Netherlands ––P. Bijma and J. Van Arendonk – Modeling of interaction between individuals and its consequences for selection for improved resistance to diseases.
  11. LfL, Bavaria, Germany – J. Buitkamp – Immunogenetic analysis of the role of the MHC in resistance to nematode infection.
  12. LfL, Bavaria, Germany – J. Buitkamp – Immunogenetic analysis of the role of the Interferon gamma in resistance to nematode infection.
Industrial placements

Nematode picture for Stear/Matthews Nematode PhD advertsReactiveLabs (UK) and IPG (NL) – The researchers worked with industry on areas related to this Marie-Curie training network. The placement with RL involved improving the diagnosis of disease in samples from livestock. The placement with IPG involved developing and applying the latest techniques to identify animals with superior genetic merit. There are no SME that specialise in breeding disease resistant sheep or cattle and IPG offered the opportunity to absorb and adapt expertise from a closely related area.