The Milner Centre for Evolution
Department of Biology & Biotechnology
University of Bath
Bath, BA2 7AY
Office phone: +44 (0) 1225-383717
2016-2020: PhD, The Milner Centre for Evolution (University of Bath)
2015-2016: Research Assistant (ZSC, Uppsala University Hospital, Sweden)
2013-2015: MSc, in infection biology (Uppsala University, Sweden)
2007-2012: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
Research Associate | August 2020 – present
My research interests focus around ecology, evolution and transmission of various bacterial infectious diseases. During my PhD, I investigated how bacteria of the Campylobacter genus can cross host species barriers, become pathogenic and infect human populations. Specifically, my PhD focused on questions related to species barriers, host adaptation, host ecology and antimicrobial resistance in Campylobacter. This work has culminated in three research papers and one draft manuscript in preparation:
1. Evolution and species barriers in the Campylobacter genus (Mourkas et al., in preparation).
2. Campylobacter jejuni ecology and evolution – Evolution of host specialism (Mourkas et al., 2020, PNAS).
3. Emergence of multi-drug resistant Campylobacter coli – Gene pool transmission among animals, humans and sewage (Mourkas et al., 2019, Environmental Microbiology).
4. Host specificity of Campylobacter in an animal model – (Atterby* & Mourkas* et al., 2018, Frontiers in Microbiology).
My current research as a Postdoctoral Researcher includes the genotypic and phenotypic characterization of Neisseria meningitidis, the meningococcus. Despite the introduction of vaccines, the meningococcus remains a problem causing invasive disease in the UK. Using Genome-Wide Association (GWAS) I am investigating the association between the genetic variation in various phenotypic outputs to understand how this pathogen transits from being in asymptomatic carriage to cause invasive disease.
The collaborative nature of research means that I am involved in projects on various bacterial pathogens such as Helicobacter, Salmonella, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and Acinetobacter. I have also supervised visiting researchers and undergraduate/postgraduate students since 2017.
Publications (* indicates joint authorship)
Calland JK, Pascoe B, Bayliss SC, Mourkas E, Thorpe HA, Yahara K, Berthenet E, Hitchings MD, Blaser MJ, Feil EJ, Falush D & Sheppard SK (2020) Quantifying bacterial evolution in the wild: a birthday problem for Campylobacter lineages. bioRxiv doi: 10.1101/2020.12.02.407999 [Publisher]; Sequence data [NCBI]; Supplementary material [figShare]
Mageiros L, Méric G, Bayliss SC, Pensar J, Pascoe B, Mourkas E, Calland JK, Yahara K, Murray S, Wilkinson TS, Williams LK, Hitchings MD, Kemmett K, Feil EJ, Jolley KA, Williams NJ, Corander J, Sheppard SK. (2020) Genome evolution and emergence of pathogenicity in Avian Escherichia coli. Nature Communications 12 (1): 765; doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-20988-w [Publisher]; Sequence data [NCBI]; Supplementary material [figShare]
Mourkas, E. (2020) Genomics and evolution of Campylobacter: host adaptation and the emergence of globally disseminated lineages. Doctoral Thesis, University of Bath [Publisher].
Jehanne Q, Pascoe B, Bénéjat L, Ducournau A, Buissonnière A, Mourkas E, Mégraud F, Bessède E, Sheppard SK & Lehours P. (2020) Determination of Campylobacter coli host-segregating SNPs and their use for source attribution of clinical isolates. AEM doi: 10.1128/AEM.01787-20 [Publisher]
Muñoz-Ramirez ZY, Pascoe B, Mendez-Tenorio A, Mourkas E, Sandoval-Motta S, Perez-Perez G, Morgan DR, Dominguez RL, Ortiz-Princz D, Cavazza ME, Rocha G, Queiroz DMM, Catalano M, de la Palma GZ, Goldman CG, Venegas A, Alarcon T, Oleastro M, Vale FF, Goodman KJ, Torres RC, Berthenet B, Hitchings MD, Blaser MJ, Sheppard SK, Thorell K & Torres J. (2020) A five-hundred year tale of co-evolution, adaptation and virulence: Helicobacter pylori in the Americas. ISME doi: 10.1038/s41396-020-00758-0 [Publisher].
Pascoe B, Schiaffino F, Murray S, Méric G, Bayliss SC, Hitchings MD, Mourkas E, Calland JK, Burga R, Peñataro-Yori P, Jolley KA, Cooper KK, Parker CT, Paredes-Olortegui M, Kosek M & Sheppard SK. (2020) Genomic epidemiology of Campylobacter jejuni associated with asymptomatic pediatric infection in the Peruvian Amazon. PLOS NTD 14(8):e0008533; doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0008533 [Publisher]. medRxiv doi: 10.1101/2020.04.26.20075689 [Publisher], sequence data [SRA], Supplementary material [figShare], genealogies .
Mourkas E, Taylor AJ, Méric G, Bayliss SC, Pascoe B, Mageiros L, Calland JK, Hitchings MD, Ridley A, Vidal A, Forbes KJ, Strachan NJC, Parker CT, Parkhill J, Jolley KA, Cody AJ, Maiden MCJ, Kelly DJ*, Sheppard SK* (2020) Agricultural intensification and the evolution of host specialism in the enteric pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. PNAS 117 (20) 11018-11028; doi: 10.1073/pnas.1917168117 [Publisher]; Sequence data [SRA]; Supplementary material [figShare]
Banaszkiewicz S, Calland JK, Mourkas E, Sheppard SK, Pascoe B & Bania J. (2019) Genetic diversity of composite enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus epidermidis pathogenicity islands. Genome Biology and Evolution 11 (12) 3498–3509; doi.org/10.1093/gbe/evz259 [Publisher] Supplementary material [Figshare] Genomes [StaphDb] Genealogy [Microreact]
Mourkas E*, Florez-Cuadrado D*, Pascoe B, Calland JK, Bayliss SC, Mageiros L, Méric G, Hitchings MD, Quesada A, Porrero C, Ugarte-Ruiz M, Gutierrez-Fernandez J, Dominguez L, Sheppard SK. (2019) Gene pool transmission of multidrug resistance among Campylobacter from livestock, sewage and human disease. Environmental Microbiology 21 (12) 4597-4613; doi:10.1111/1462-2920.14760 [Publisher] Sequence data [SRA] **Among the 10% most downloaded Environmental Microbiology papers for 2019**
Atterby C*, Mourkas E*, Méric G, Pascoe B, Waldenstrom J, Sheppard SK, Olsen B, Jarhult JD, Ellstrom P. (2018) The potential of isolation source to predict colonization in avian hosts: a case study in Campylobacter jejuni strains from three bird species. Frontiers in Microbiology 9:51. [Publisher]
Méric G, Mageiros L, Pascoe B, Mourkas E, Lamble S, Bowden R, Jolley KA, Raymond B, Sheppard SK. (2018) Lineage-specific plasmid acquisition and the evolution of specialized pathogens in Bacillus thuringiensis and the Bacillus cereus group. Molecular Ecology 27 (7), 1524-1540 [Publisher].
Méric G, McNally A, Pessia A, Mourkas E, Pascoe B, Mageiros L, Vehkala M, Corander J, Sheppard SK. (2018) Convergent amino acid signatures in paraphyletic Campylobacter jejuni sub-populations suggest human niche tropism. Genome Biology and Evolution 10 (3), 763-774 [Publisher].
Rossi G, Silva HO, Aguilar EG, Pascoe B, Méric G, Mourkas E, Hitchings MD, Mathias LA, Ruiz VLA, Fukumasu H, Sheppard SK, Vical AMC. (2018) Comparative genomic survey of Bacillus cereus sensu stricto isolates from the dairy production chain in Brazil. FEMS Microbiology Letters 365 (3), fnx283 [Publisher].
Eriksson P, Mourkas E, González-Acuna D, Björn Olsen, Ellström P. (2017) Evaluation and optimization of microbial DNA extraction from fecal samples of wild Antarctic bird species. Infection Ecology & Epidemiology 7 (1), 1386536 [Publisher].