Pandemics Past and Present

Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 4:00 pm to Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 5:00 pm
Edward C. Holmes - Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Disease and Biosecurity, Charles Perkins Centre, School of Biological Sciences and Sydney medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
I will show how modern genomic techniques, notably meta-transcriptomics and ancient DNA, can provide important new information on microbial biodiversity, origins and evolution. I will first demonstrate how the meta-transcriptomic analysis of invertebrates is transforming our understanding of viral evolution, revealing the ancestry of many vertebrate viruses, challenging traditional classification systems, and highlighting that most RNA viruses are unlikely to be associated with disease in their hosts. I will then show how the analysis of ‘ancient DNA’ from archival human remains (including those present in medical collections) can inform on past infectious disease epidemics, focusing on two infamous bacterial diseases – plague and cholera – where the recovery of genomes >1000 years old is now possible, as well as early spread of the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
209 Eno Hall

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