Agricultural intensification and the evolution of host specialism in the enteric pathogen Campylobacter jejuni

The group’s latest paper investigating the emergence of cattle specialist strains of Campylobacter jejuni associated with intensive animal agriculture was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [Abstract below]

Cattle in a US feedlot
Bath University press release: Intensive farming increases risk of epidemics
Sheffield University press release: Intensive farming increases risk of epidemics

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Welcome Jaspreet!

We are glad to welcome Jaspreet Mahindroo to the lab, who is visiting as part of her PhD studies with Dr. Neelam Taneja at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh in India. We’re very happy to help Jaspreet characterize her Campylobacter genomes and investigate potential sources of infection in India.

From left to right: Ben, Grant, Jess, Sam, Jaspreet & Evangelos.

Darwin Day: Dr. Kat Arney

Darwin Day Lecture, Wednesday February 19th, 2020
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution 16-18 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN

Dr. Kat Arney – Everything You Know About Genetics Is Wrong.
Many of us learn about genetics in school starting with Mendel and his pea plants. We learn that one gene is linked to one trait, and one gene fault causes one disease. But the recent revolution in DNA sequencing is revealing that it’s much more complicated. People are not peas – and even peas are not peas! Dr Kat Arney, author of Herding Hemingways Cats: understanding how our genes work and How to Code a Human, explains how much we really know about how our genetic blueprints dictate our characteristics and health.

Special thanks to Jess for organising the event and to Evangelos, Vicky, Emily and Sabrina for helping out during the day.

Welcome Emily, Goodbye Sabrina!

A warm welcome to Emily Rudolph as a starting PhD student into our laboratory! She will be working on commensal and pathogenic strains of bacteria in varying immune environments. Prior to joining us Emily has completed a MSc at the University of Bath in 2019. Good luck and we look forward to many exciting projects and research!

A farewell to Sabrina Hepner who was visiting as part of her PhD studies with Gabriele Margos at the Ludwig-Maximilians University and the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority (LGL) in Germany. Sabrina spent 4 weeks with us working on Borrelia genomics.

CHRO-2019, Belfast

Ben, Jess and Evangelos attended the bi-annual Campylobacter, Helicobacter and Related Organisms (CHRO) conference in Belfast. It was good to meet up with old friends, present our work (poster, talks and sessions) and help the Campylobacter football team defend their trophy against Helicobacter!

ASM microbe in San Francisco

Sheppard Lab joined over 9,000 at the recent ASM microbe meeting in San Francisco. Ben and Sion gave oral presentations and Evangelos presented his award-winning flash poster presentation.

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Top: Ben’s talk on global differences in Campylobacter populations; Middle-left: Evangelos’ poster on cattle-adaptation in C. jejuni. Bottom-left: View of the golden gate bridge! Bottom-right: Sion’s talk on niche-associated genes.

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¡Visitors!

We’ve had a couple of visitors this month:

Dr Santiago Castillo Ramírez is an Associate Professor in the Evolutionary Genomics Research Program at the Center for Genomic Sciences in Mexico and spent a few days with us discussing global population dynamics in Actinobacteria baumanii.

In addition, we’ve been pleased to welcome Guillermo Salvatierra Rodríguez who is visiting as part of his PhD studies with Pablo Tsukayama at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) in Peru. We’re very happy to help Guillermo characterize his Campylobacter genomes and investigate potential sources of infection in Peru.

¡Buena suerte amigos!

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From left: Sam, Sion, Guillermo, Evangelos and Ben.

Darwin Day Lecture: Professor Turi King

Darwin Day Lecture, Friday February 15th, 2019
Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution 16-18 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN

Professor Turi King – King Richard III: resolving a 500 year old cold case.
When the University of Leicester Archaeology Service undertook the Grey Friars project, it was thought that the chances of finding the remains of Richard III were slim to none. Nevertheless, the skeletal remains of a ‘good candidate’ to be Richard III were found. Prof Turi King, with her background both in archaeology and genetics, led the DNA analysis in this fascinating project identifying the remains of the infamous king. In the 2019 Milner Centre Darwin Day lecture, Turi King spoke about the Grey Friars project, from the early stages of planning the dig, through to the excavation and the results of the various strands of analysis carried out on the remains.

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