Fighting disease on farms: How do vaccinations drive evolution of new pathogen strains? (2012–2014)
This project will determine how vaccination of animals drives evolution of new strains of bacteria. Using on-farm vaccinations together with controlled laboratory experiments we will determine whether vaccination selects from an existing pool of different bacterial strains, or drives genetic changes in highly mutable regions of the bacterial genome. Moreover we will determine how these mutable regions define the surface that the bacteria present to the immune system, thereby reducing the host animal's ability to respond effectively when re-infected. This project uses an innovative high throughput method to understand how novel strains of bacteria arise after vaccination, so permitting improved disease management and vaccination strategies.