Dr Stephen Larcombe
- Affiliate Researcher (Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health & Comparative Medicine)
2014-current: Research Associate, Molecular Epidemiology of Theileria annulata in India, University of Glasgow
2011-2014: Junior Research Fellowship, Impacts of Mosquito Control on Epidemiology of Avian Malaria in the Camagre, University of Oxford, Fondation Tour du Valat (France)
2010-2011: Postdoctoral Researcher: Host-parasite interactions in a Plasmodium-Canary system, University of Burgundy, France
2008-2010: PhD: Roles of Dietary Antioxidants and Oxitive Stress in Mediating Life-History Trade-Offs in Birds, University of Glasgow
Most of my research focusses on Apicomplexan parasites; avian malaria in birds, mosquitoes and midges, and Theileria annulata in cows, buffaloes and ticks. My research is aimed at addressing interactions among host, parasite and vector, and hows these impact two main themes: consequences of infection with different parasites on the host and how these vary at an individual level, and the large scale drivers of differences in parasite prevalence in hosts.
In Theileria, working with my supervisor Brian Shiels and our collaborators in India we are investigating several questions: what are the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that impact difference in prevalence between the three main host types: native breed cattle, cross bred cattle, and buffaloes? Which genetic processes are important to determining differences in breed specific resistance to Theileria infection? And can bioinformatic predictions be used to generate candidate antigen genes for use in a broad spectrum transmission-blocking vaccine?
In avian malaria, my research on canaries with Garbiele Sorci has previously demonstrated prevalence-mediated virulence or a parasite, for the first time in a social vertebrate host. I also showed that dominance status can impact on the virulence of identical parasite challenge, irrespective of diet quality and competition. Work carried out with my collaborators has also shown that diet quality in hosts can impact infection-dynamics of parasites in new hosts. I have also investigated the role that large-scale control of mosquitoes can have of the prevalence and diveristy of malaria in wild sparrows. I am currently developing a new research project aimed at addressing the role of seasonality in malaria infection dynamics.
My other main research interest is the role of antioxidants and oxidative stress underlying life-history trade-offs. My work has shown that exercise is a signficant source of oxidative damage in captive birds, and that diet and training can ameliorate this damage; that different lipid-soluble dietary antioxidants can have differential impacts on fitness related traits (including oxidative stress) in wild birds; and that seasonal variation in antioxidant quality of insect prey of birds is substantial.