Student Level: Honours or Masters

This study will use multilocus sequence typing of chlamydial isolates collected from free-ranging koalas in Gunnedah, New South Wales to investigate the host-pathogen-environment interactions involved in chlamydiosis in this population.

Chlamydiosis is a highly significant infectious disease of koalas and manifests primarily as urogenital tract disease and/or keratoconjunctivitis. In the koala, the causative organisms are C. pecorum and C. pneumoniae. In severe cases, the disease can cause sterility, blindness and death. The prevalence of chlamydiosis varies amongst koala populations. From preliminary studies of a free-ranging population of koalas in Gunnedah, New South Wales, the prevalence of disease was found to be as high as 75%.

Chlamydial DNA has already been extracted from samples taken for diagnostic testing and is readily available for further analysis. In this study, we plan to use multi-locus sequence typing as a tool to examine the molecular epidemiology of koala chlamydial isolates in order to determine any patterns of infection, correlate sequence type to disease severity and further elucidate the potential link between chlamydial isolates and livestock by comparing findings to the common sequence types isolated from livestock species.

Multilocus sequence typing is a commonly used tool to study molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases, and an established scheme and database exists for the Chlamydiales order (http://pubmlst.org/chlamydiales/). The laboratory work for this project would be conducted in the Molecular Mycology Research Laboratory at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research at teh Westmead Campus in collaboration with koala disease experts and veterinarians from the Faculty of Veterinary Science at teh University of Sydney campus.

Methods: PCR, multi-locus sequence typing, phylogenetic analysis.


Supversior: Wieland Meyer - wieland.meyer@sydney.edu.au