Professor Timothy Mahony

Professorial Research Fellow

Centre for Animal Science
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
t.mahony@uq.edu.au
+61 7 334 66505

Overview

Prof Tim Mahony joined QAAFI’s Centre for Animal Science in October 2010, after 15 years of conducting research projects with the Queensland Government. He obtained his PhD from James Cook University in the area of molecular microbiology. During 2001 and 2002, Prof Mahony was a visiting professor at the University of Saskatchewan.

Research interests

Dr Mahony’s research interests are in the area of molecular virology revolving around improving viral disease control in production animals such as cattle and poultry. His group is characterising the molecular interactions between invading pathogens and the subsequent host responses with the goal of developing new vaccines and diagnostic technologies. A key component of this work includes improving the basic understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underpin and drive viral virulence and evolution. Next-generation sequencing has been used to sequence the genomes of herpesviruses and adenoviruses from a variety of species including, cattle, chickens, marsupials, horses, and crocodiles. Prof Mahony’s team is also investigating the role of virally encoded microRNAs in virulence, replication, and disease development. His group was one of the first in the world to apply bacterial artificial chromosome infectious clone technology for the efficient manipulation of herpesviruses that have large DNA genomes. These strategies are also being exploited to understand viral gene function and the development of vaccines.

Currently, Prof Mahony is researching risk factors that protect and predispose feedlot cattle to developing bovine respiratory disease (BRD). He is also leading the development of new vaccines for BRD and cattle tick infestations. Prof Mahony has also led the development of new vaccine delivery technologies for the poultry industry targeting the application of in ovo strategies. Prof Mahony research into improving animal health is increasing industry productivity, food safety, and consumer confidence in food products and he is keen to explore collaborations with other scientists in this area.

Prof Mahony has a strong interest to work with post-graduate students and has supervised a number of post-graduate students from Australia and overseas. These projects have covered research areas in molecular virology, animal health, vaccine development, and pathogen-host interactions.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, James Cook University

Publications

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Supervision

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Available Projects

  • The herpesviruses are a large family of viruses that infected a broad range of hosts, such as mammals, reptiles, and molluscs. These viruses have a large double stranded DNA (dsDNA) genome. While the herpesviruses are considered to be genetically stable, variants with increased capacity to cause disease have emerged. The molecular basis underpinning the emergence of these virulent subtypes/genotypes for several herpesviruses of importance to veterinary medicine remains poorly understood. This project will utilise Oxford Nanopore sequencing technology to develop strategies to enable the strand-specific sequencing of herpesvirus genomes. The availability of strand-specific sequence data will be used to determine if the emergence of new genotypes of herpesviruses is a result of spontaneous mutation or the selection of existing genetic diversity within a viral isolate. This new knowledge will improve our understanding of this important virus family.

  • The capacity to manipulate the genomes of viruses in the laboratory remains dependent on their in vitro replication efficiency. This limitation has hindered our attempts better understand many of these viruses. This project will address this issue by applying long range PCR and DNA fragment assembly to construction copies of selected herpesviral genomes. The capacity of these genomes to facilitate rescue of infectious virus will also be determined. The availability of these infectious genome copies will aide in the development of improved diagnostics and control methods for these currently difficult to work with viruses.

  • Gene editing technologies have enabled the rapid and specific modification of the genomes of complex organisms. Projects are available that will focus on the application of gene editing to increase the resilience of livestock cells to pathogens which reduce productivity. These projects will enable the candidate to gain experience in mammalian cell culture, transfection, growth and titration of viruses, molecular cloning, Western blotting, quantitative real-time PCR, genomic analyses, and fluorescence microscopy. These studies will improve our understanding of host/pathogen interactions towards the development of more resilient livestock.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • The herpesviruses are a large family of viruses that infected a broad range of hosts, such as mammals, reptiles, and molluscs. These viruses have a large double stranded DNA (dsDNA) genome. While the herpesviruses are considered to be genetically stable, variants with increased capacity to cause disease have emerged. The molecular basis underpinning the emergence of these virulent subtypes/genotypes for several herpesviruses of importance to veterinary medicine remains poorly understood. This project will utilise Oxford Nanopore sequencing technology to develop strategies to enable the strand-specific sequencing of herpesvirus genomes. The availability of strand-specific sequence data will be used to determine if the emergence of new genotypes of herpesviruses is a result of spontaneous mutation or the selection of existing genetic diversity within a viral isolate. This new knowledge will improve our understanding of this important virus family.

  • The capacity to manipulate the genomes of viruses in the laboratory remains dependent on their in vitro replication efficiency. This limitation has hindered our attempts better understand many of these viruses. This project will address this issue by applying long range PCR and DNA fragment assembly to construction copies of selected herpesviral genomes. The capacity of these genomes to facilitate rescue of infectious virus will also be determined. The availability of these infectious genome copies will aide in the development of improved diagnostics and control methods for these currently difficult to work with viruses.

  • Gene editing technologies have enabled the rapid and specific modification of the genomes of complex organisms. Projects are available that will focus on the application of gene editing to increase the resilience of livestock cells to pathogens which reduce productivity. These projects will enable the candidate to gain experience in mammalian cell culture, transfection, growth and titration of viruses, molecular cloning, Western blotting, quantitative real-time PCR, genomic analyses, and fluorescence microscopy. These studies will improve our understanding of host/pathogen interactions towards the development of more resilient livestock.

  • Bovine herpesvirus 2 (BoHV-2) is associated with mastitis in cattle. Of all of the herpesviruses which infect cattle, BoHV-2 is by far the most poorly characterised. This project will address this knowledge gap by using next generation sequencing and conventional PCR and sequencing technologies to completely sequence the BoHV-2 genome. The results of this project will enable the genome-wide comparisons of the BoHV-2 genome to other bovine and mammalian herpesviruses. These comparisons will improve our understanding of host/virus interactions at the molecular level for important viral properties such as tissue tropism and virulence.

  • Bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-5) is a neurotrophic which is associated with severe and fatal disease in young cattle. Unlike bovine herpesvirus 1, BoHV-5 occurs sporadically in the world’s cattle population, except in South America. In this project, you will utilise genome edit tools, such as CRISPR/Cas9, to manipulate the BoHV-5 genome to construct an infectious clone of the virus. The results of this project will provide a better understanding of gene function in BoHV-5, particularly in respect to virulence. This information will improve our understand of how BoHV-5 interacts with its host at the molecular level and lead to the development of improved control strategies.