Pathogen Richness & Diversity

The future is here! In 2012 we began collecting diverse, noninvasive tissue samples through our capture-release programs that we did not have funding to analyze but knew would be invaluable at a future date. Enter Moore’s Law, but in the context of genomic research! Not only have DNA sequencing costs declined exponentially, but genetic instruments are getting smaller, even pocket-sized. In short, we now have the tissue samples and access to affordable sequencing technology to hunt for bacterial and viral pathogens of global concern.

Our Work in Progress

With a focus on select groups of wildlife with heightened potential to exchange pathogens with humans (i.e. nonhuman primates, bats, and small terrestrial mammals), here is what we plan to do:

  • Characterize natural bacterial and viral pathogen diversity using high-throughput DNA metabarcoding.
    • In the first instance, we will pool samples from the same species together to give a broad overview of what target host species have.
    • Second, we will explore pathogen overlap across co-occuring species of primates, bats, rodents, birds, and small terrestrial mammals
    • Third, we will index samples by animal per year, and perform metagenomics of select pathogens to study evolutionary change.
  • Perform these tasks in realtime in the field for all newly collected samples, eliminating the need for a cold-chain, samples storage, sample exportation, myrid permits, and providing much needed training for local scientists.
  • For select high-profile pathogens, innovate cheap test kits for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers that lack access to pathogen screening.