Supervisor: Andy Fenton
My research interests lie in disease ecology and the interspecific interactions between parasites and pathogens within a host, specifically in the indirect interactions between helminths and viruses via the host’s immune system, and how these effect individual health and population-level disease spread.
Several laboratory studies have shown that parasitic helminths (worms) can alter their host’s immune system, making them more susceptible to infection by other pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. However, few studies have quantified helminth-pathogen interactions in the wild.
My PhD project will take a community ecology approach to understand and model the causes and consequences of helminth-virus interactions, using six years of longitudinal data from free-roaming wild wood mice and their parasites (nematodes, cestodes, protozoa, viruses, and bacteria). Furthermore, anti-helminthic treatment studies have been carried out in these wild rodent populations. Overall this work will provide a detailed example of how within-host helminth-virus interactions affect parasite dynamics and the wider impacts of deworming in a natural system.