Wild Immunomics: characterising protective immunity to helminth infection by integrating transcriptomes and metabolomes of wild rodents

Simon Babayan (University of Glasgow)
Co-applicants: Amy Pedersen (University of Edinburgh), Simon Rogers (University of Glasgow)

Health impacts of infection and medical treatment vary widely across populations and between individuals. Yet, our understanding of the molecular and cellular interactions that determine health in naturally-exposed populations is alarmingly poor, due to a lack of immunological and diagnostic assays. Now, high-throughput sequencing technologies provide the opportunity to combine immunology with ecological and computational methodologies. This project will take an interdisciplinary approach to address how immunity and antihelminthic treatment interact in the wild by generating individual immune transcriptomes and excretory metabolomes from longitudinally sampled wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus), and by combining those data with standard parasitological and health indicators. Wood mice offer a highly tractable and well–studied experimental system that is uniquely suited to studying immunity in wild populations given their high population densities, short generation times, and susceptibility to one of the most studied gastrointestinal helminths, Heligmosomoides polygyrus. A supervised computational analysis of these datasets will then help increase the generalisation and predictive power of the phenotypes sampled.