I am a post-doctoral researcher in Ben Longdon’s group within the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter.
|2021-||Post Doctoral Researcher with Ben Longdon|
Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh
|NERC funded PhD Student ‘Community Virology in Space and Time’ with Darren Obbard|
University of Glasgow
|MRes Ecology and Environmental Biology|
University of Oxford
BA Biological Sciences
I am interested in how biotic and abiotic factors interact to influence complex multi-host, multi-virus communities. The effects of this include their composition (the insect ‘virome’), its consistency over both ecological and evolutionary timescales (eg. seasonal prevalence variation and host switching), and the resulting selection pressure exerted on both the host and virus genomes.
My PhD thesis focussed on demonstrating the utility of the model species Drosophila melanogaster, and other sympatric Drosophila species, as a model for examining insect virus co-evolution in a realistic wild context. This first involved using metagenomic sequencing to describe novel Drosophila-associated RNA viruses. I then characterised variation in the prevalence and host range of both new and known Drosophila viruses using spatiotemporally structured sampling in the wild. This kind of data allows us to ask what environmental and phylogenetic factors determine viral host range, and prevalence. I also analysed the diversity, and spatiotemporal patterns of prevalence seen in DNA viruses infecting European populations of Drosophila. For more details of my work, please see my google scholar page.
For my postdoctoral research, I will once again be utilising multiple Drosophila species to ask questions about viral host range, and the evolution of virulence. However, I will be utilising a panel of Drosophila species in the lab to examine the host specificity of one of the mechanisms which might underlie viral virulence and onward transmission: viral suppression of the host immune response.