Evolutionary Ecology of Infectious Diseases

Does the pelagic trophic network mediate vertebrate mycobacteriosis?

Since 2017, LAQErs have been investigating the evolutionary ecology of water-borne zoonotes, including Buruli Ulcer. Buruli Ulcer is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, an actinobacteria closely related to those that cause Tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) and Leprosy (M. leprae). Mycobacterium ulcerans can be considered a descendant of Mycobacterium marinum, a common pathogen of fishes and other aquatic vertebrates. However, M. ulcerans has acquired a unique plasmid that enables production of Mycolactone, a macrolide toxin responsible for increased virulence across a broad range of vertebrate hosts, including humans.

How does climate change affect the risk of Mycobacterium ulcerans epidemics in humans and animals?

"Understanding and controlling emerging infectious diseases before they reach epidemic proportions is important for preventing devastating effects on human health, promoting animal welfare, and improving species conservation. Discovering new interactions between disease-causing organisms, where they live, and the other microbes living with them provides insight into the basic understanding of how diseases emerge and spread." For more information on this project, click here .