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Threats to One Health from global spread of cardiopulmonary nematodes under climate change

   School of Biological Sciences

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  Prof E Morgan  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Lungworms in the genus Angiostrongylus are linked to emerging diseases in animals and humans, including through pneumonia, bleeding disorders and meningitis. This project will combine advanced modelling and molecular biology methods to understand how climate change is altering transmission pathways and contributing to global parasite spread and One Health impacts. 

Angiostrongylus lungworms cause disease in animals (e.g. A. vasorum in carnivores, causing verminous pneumonia and bleeding disorders) and humans (e.g. A. cantonensis, the rat lungworm, causing zoonotic eosinophilic meningitis). The life cycles are complex, involving a wide range of gastropod mollusc intermediate hosts, which are linked to the final hosts through trophic networks. The behaviour of the hosts in relation to climate is likely to modify direct effects of climate on parasite development, and drive non-linearity in responses to climate change. This project will explore the role of climate change in the global emergence of angiostrongylosis, and develop tools to enable prediction and tracking of infection dynamics in complex ecological systems. Methods used will include climate-driven models of transmission potential, to map predicted global climatic suitability; experiments on captive colonies of major gastropod intermediate host species to elucidate climate response norms in transmission-relevant behaviours; and molecular biology including in situ sequencing to track infection in complex trophic networks, with field data collection from Europe, southern Africa and South-East Asia. Insights will be applied under climate change scenarios to predict how distribution and infection risk will change under future conditions, including through intermediate host behaviour and trophic relationships. 

Start Date: 1 October 2022

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