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Queen’s DTP: Co-infection and co-selection for drug resistance in zoonotic pathogens of the ruminant gut under routine farm management

School of Biological Sciences

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Prof E Morgan , Prof S Fanning , Prof D O'Donovan No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Belfast United Kingdom Agricultural Sciences Epidemiology Microbiology Veterinary Sciences Parasitology Zoology

About the Project

This project opportunity is offered as part of the Queen's Doctoral Training Programme - Multi-dimensional approaches to understanding microbe/host interactions in the context of disease, therapeutics and community resilience. For more information, please visit:

The gut biome in food-producing animals includes nematodes, protists and bacteria that influence host health and productivity, and some that are zoonotic, i.e. transmissible to humans. Although attention has been paid to perturbation of the gut microbiome by antibiotic administration, and consequences for anti-microbial resistance, the most common drugs administered to grazing ruminants are anthelmintics, whose collateral effects on specific microbial pathogens remain largely unexplored. This project will use routine tests of anthelmintic field efficacy on farms as perturbation experiments to evaluate effects on microbial co-infection and co-selection for drug resistance. Sheep and cattle in Northern Ireland, and goats in southern Africa, will be treated with anthelmintics and changes in propagule density for target and non-target species tracked over time, supplemented by in vitro bioassays of sensitivity to biocides. Implications of whole-group and targeted within-group treatments for resistance selection will be explored using epidemiological models, validated by multi-year field trials. Specifically, analysis will address the hypothesis that routine whole-herd anthelmintic treatment has the potential to select for drug resistance in non-target protists (Crypotosporidium spp.) and bacteria (e.g. Salmonella spp.), and that this increases zoonotic risks from animal contact, water and food. Outcomes will be applied to management of parasites and zoonoses in food chains and landscapes.

Candidate requirements: Must have 1st class or 2.1 degree in biological, medical, or veterinary sciences or another relevant subject. An MSc in a relevant discipline would be an advantage, as would significant laboratory and/or field experience, especially on farms or in less developed overseas settings.

Start date: October 2021

Duration: 3.5 years

How to apply:

Applicants for this project must apply to the School of Biological Sciences PhD programme at Queen’s via

Funding Notes

There are a number of competition based studentships available, funded by the Department for the Economy (DfE). These opportunities are primarily available for UK applicants but there will be a small number of awards available for EU/international candidates.
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