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Modelling Campylobacter Survival and Spread through Poultry Processing: A Population Genomics Approach


<p>Genetic information will be used to examine how variations in the physical traits, such as survival, are determined by changes to the genes. Changes in the genetic structure of the population will be used to inform a mathematical model that simulates the passage of campylobacter through processing, based upon selection for certain genes.</p> The model will simulate:
<ul><li>how the strains change through processing</li>
<li>the factors responsible for the survival and proliferation of disease</li>
<li>points in processing where campylobacter can be most effectively eradicated</li></ul>

<p>In order to inform targeted interventions to reduce campylobacter, this project aims to identify the genetic elements and associated phenotypes that enable some chicken-associated genotypes to survive poultry processing and infect humans. A modelling approach based upon comparative functional genomics data will address fundamental questions about the genetic basis of genotypic variation. The work will be approached in three question areas.</p>

1. Genome-wide association mapping will investigate:

<ul><li>whether there are distinct gene pools associated with different stages of poultry processing</li>
<li>are there lineages that are lost and others that proliferate</li>
<li>are there particular micro-evolutionary events associated with survival</li>
<li>whether such events occur in the core or the flexible genome</li></ul>

2. Campylobacter survival and spread will be modelled to determine:
<ul><li>what factors are important in altering the genotypic/phenotypic diversity</li>
<li>how population/gene-pool size, mutation and recombination rate, and growth rate influences survival/spread</li></ul>

3. Identification of targets for interventions by testing predictions:
<ul><li>of how the enhanced fitness of adapted or adaptor lineages translate to in vivo systems. This will include examination of which functional categories of genes are most affected at each point through processing and which stages in processing are the best targets for reducing campylobacter.</li></ul>

More information

<p>Background: Chickens are the major source of human infection of campylobacter. Substantial evidence shows that strains associated with chicken are a major source of disease, thought to be because chickens have high levels of campylobacter contamination on the farm which is maintained through processing to retail.</p>

<p>By considering the elimination of campylobacter on the farm, this project aims to develop interventions that are effective and practicable for the poultry industry to use. To achieve this, state-of-the-art means of determining the entire genetic code of campylobacter strains - from key stages through poultry processing and human disease - will be employed.</p>

<p>This systems approach to understanding campylobacter survival and spread will inform targeted interventions. </p>

University of Wales - Swansea
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