Professor Jane Hodgkinson and Professor Diana Williams
I graduated from the University of Liverpool in 2016 with a First Class BSc (Hons) degree in Bioveterinary Science. I am now undertaking a 4 year PhD within the research field of Veterinary Parasitology, in collaboration with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). My undergraduate honours project was based within Professor Stuart Carter’s laboratories where I investigated the potential symbioses between the pathogenic bacteria associated within Bovine Digital Dermatitis (BDD). From this I developed a strong interest in the pathogenesis of livestock diseases which was supported by previous experience working on farms and within veterinary practice. My research interests are particularly focussed on Food Security and Public Health, I believe that translating raw data into practical management advice for farmers is of great importance within today’s fast-paced agriculture sector. Alongside my colleagues I have given presentations on my research to veterinary clinicians participating in CPD workshops, acquired the Judges Poster Choice Award at the 2017 BBSRC Summer DTP Conference and have been involved with University public engagement activities.
Defining the genetic diversity of the free-living and intramolluscan stages of Fasciola hepatica
Fasciola hepatica, the common liver fluke, is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in ruminant livestock worldwide. Effects of sub-clinical infection on growth rate and milk yield is estimated to cost the UK cattle industry up to £40.4 million annually. Currently, control of fasciolosis is based on anthelmintic drugs including triclabendazole, however, drug resistance is increasingly being reported throughout the UK. Previous research has identified that liver fluke populations infecting sheep and cattle in the UK are genetically diverse. The aim of this project is to better understand how diversity is maintained within parasite populations in order to appreciate how drug resistance emerges and spreads. The project has three specific objectives:
- Can the infective F. hepatica stage (metacercariae) remain viable within silage after the fermentation process?
- How does the prevalence of infection in the mud snail intermediate host, G. truncatula, influence the genetic diversity of F. hepatica populations?
- How long can metacercariae survive on pasture and how does this impact the genetic diversity of liver fluke populations infecting sheep and cattle?
By highlighting the contribution different stages of the liver fluke life cycle make to parasite diversity, the project will provide a deeper understanding of the emergence and spread of triclabendazole resistance. The outcomes of the project will identify what risk feeding stored forage poses to liver fluke infection in livestock and provide information on the distribution of infective metacercariae on pasture. This will lead to advice for farmers on how best to reduce livestock exposure to liver fluke infection on farms and in the longer term it will enable the design of evidence-based control programmes to mitigate the spread of drug resistance.