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Giant viruses in the human gut microbiome

The human body is home to a vast ecosystem of microorganisms including bacteria, archaea, fungi, viruses, and bacteriophages that make up the human microbiota. These microbes and their collective genetic material, known as the microbiome, influence a wide range of physiological functions including nutrient production and absorption, the development and regulation of our immune system, protection against potential pathogens, and even our mood and mental health. While distinct microbial communities exist throughout the body, the gut microbiome has gained particular …

Study level
Master of Philosophy, Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Centre for Microbiome Research

Exploring global viral diversity with conserved sequence tags

Viruses control much of the world indirectly through infection of microbial cells. Modern metagenomics provides the raw data to investigate their dynamics and patterns of co-occurrence with the microbial hosts, but extracting signal from these datasets at the large scale remains challenging. Marker-gene based approaches, such as SingleM, have shown great promise for microbial data, converting metagenomic datasets into community profiles by concentrating on reads which derive from conserved sections of prevalent genes.

Study level
PhD
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Centre for Microbiome Research

Estimating the evolutionary history of plasmids and viruses

In the case of cellular life - bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes - determining the 'tree of life' is a comparatively well-studied problem.This vertical evolutionary history can be estimated using concatenated gene phylogenies, where single copy marker genes are concatenated into a single multiple sequence alignment which is then used in a phylogenetic tree reconstruction algorithm.Viral genomes and plasmid sequences, meanwhile, are more challenging to fit into a phylogenetic framework.

Study level
PhD, Master of Philosophy, Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences
Research centre(s)

Centre for Microbiome Research

Can virus-based defective interfering particles (DIPS) be used to treat dengue infection?

Infection by dengue virus causes incapacitating and potentially dangerous acute disease in humans. Dengue is a mosquito-borne infectious disease with about 100 million serious clinical infections annually. Considerable effort in drug development is underway, but no effective drug therapy is available. A major difficulty for drug development is the rapid evolution of RNA viruses, like dengue virus, which presents a major challenge for controlling virus transmission and infection using conventional pharmaceuticals and vaccines.This project is based on the observation that …

Study level
Master of Philosophy
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences

Potential for defective interfering particles (DIPS) to interrupt mammal-mosquito transmission of dengue virus

Dengue is a major mosquito-borne disease affecting 390 million people annually across 100 countries. Disease results from infection with dengue viruses, which are single positive-stranded RNA viruses in the family Flaviviridae. Defective interfering particles (DIPs) are virus-like particles with greatly reduced genomes that are byproducts of RNA virus replication and replicate only in the presence of standard virus (Vignuzzi and Lopez 2019, doi: 10.1038/s41564-019-0465-y). DIPs occur naturally during Dengue infection (Li et al. 2011, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019447) and suppress DENV replication …

Study level
Master of Philosophy
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences

Investigating the activities of clinically significant arboviruses from 2002 to 2017 in Australia: possible implications for blood transfusion safety

Arboviruses are a significant concern for public health in Australia and worldwide. More than 75 arboviruses have been identified in Australia.1 Three of the most common and clinically important arboviruses in Australia today include Ross River virus (RRV), Barmah Forest virus (BFV) and dengue virus (DENV). These mosquito-borne diseases have exhibited an upward trend in case numbers in Australia since 2002.Concern has arisen that these numbers will only continue to increase as a result of climate change. Vector-borne disease risk …

Study level
Master of Philosophy, Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences

Impact of cytomegalovirus on human responses to malaria parasites

The lifelong viral infection cytomegalovirus (CMV) has broad influence on the human immune system. Some studies in young adults have suggested that these CMV mediated changes can enhance responsiveness to vaccination and infection. How CMV infection impacts immunity to malaria parasites is unknown.This project will leverage previous experimental human malaria infection trials to investigate whether CMV infection modifies innate and adaptive immune responses following malaria.AimsInvestigate whether CMV infection impacts innate immune responses (monocytes, DCs, gamma delta cells and NK cells) …

Study level
Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences

Molecular mechanisms of bacterial proteins involved in host recognition and defense

Pathogenic bacteria employ a large repertoire of molecular weapons known as virulence factors to infect the host and cause disease. In particular, autotransporter proteins, the largest family of secreted virulence factors in Gram-negative bacteria, promote bacterial colonisation, biofilm formation and host cell invasion and/or damage (1). In response, host cells deploy various antimicrobial strategies, such as the mobilisation of copper at the site of infection, which induces bacterial stress.Despite the abundance of autotransporters and their roles in infection, their mechanisms …

Study level
Master of Philosophy, Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences

Characterisation of emerging multidrug resistant E. coli pathogens

The last fifteen years have witnessed an unprecedented rise in the rates of antimicrobial resistance among Gram-negative bacteria, described by the World Health organisation as a global health crisis (1). Escherichia coli sequence type 131 (E. coli ST131) is a ‘high-risk’ group of Gram-negative pathogens that have emerged rapidly and spread worldwide in the period of the last 10 years (2). E. coli ST131 strains are typically resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics and cause bloodstream and urinary tract infections …

Study level
Master of Philosophy, Honours
Faculty
Faculty of Health
School
School of Biomedical Sciences

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