In August, we held the second BUG meeting in Liverpool to coincide with the World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology (WAAVP) Conference 2015. In addition to being a very useful meeting scientifically, it was also a great opportunity to meet some of the newest members of the BUG Consortium in person. From Bristol, we met postdoctoral researcher Hannah Rose and technician Katie Bull, who are working with Eric Morgan in modelling climate-driven management of parasites and parasitic disease, and undertaking sampling of UK farm populations of Haemonchus contortus. Hannah gave us a very nice introduction to her modelling work and an update on the collection of field samples. It was also a chance to introduce Umer Chaudhry to the rest of the team, a postdoctoral researcher working with Neil Sargison at the Roslin Institute. Since joining us from Calgary, Umer has been applying molecular parasitology techniques to study two H. contortus genetic crosses and helping run anthelmintic resistance bioassays with Dave Bartley and Alison Morrison at the Moredun Research Institute (MRI). We were also given a fantastic insight into the technologies and expertise that underpin the manual curation of the H. contortus genome by Alan Tracey, a senior computer biologist in Matt Berriman’s group, who is working with James Cotton and the team at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI).
In November, we spent an enjoyable day in Edinburgh at both the Roslin Institute and the MRI, discussing the work plans for the coming season and visiting the R(D)SVS sheep flock. Here we were joined by James and the most recent postdoctoral researcher to start on the project, Stephen Doyle. Steve is working with Matt and James at the WTSI and brings a wealth of helminth population genetics and genomics expertise from his previous post in Melbourne. So far, Steve has been honing his bioinformatics skills on the assembly of the Teladorsagia circumcinta genome and in the analysis of H. contortus whole genome amplified larval samples. This was also the first opportunity to introduce our new Glasgow-based PhD student Jennifer McIntyre to some of the members of BUG she’ll be working with most closely over the next few years. Jenni started her PhD in October 2015 funded by a BBSRC CASE award with KTN and AHDB and has been busy learning the tools of the trade: PCR and pyrosequencing. In the coming season she will begin her fieldwork with Neil, collecting farm samples for her studies on drug resistance in Teladorsagia circumcincta.