Vector and Waterborne Pathogens Group

PhD Projects

We are very much in a growth phase and are always keen to talk to students interested in PhD studies.

Honors Projects

Does sheep drinking water source pose an animal health risk?
Cryptosporidium and Giardia are protozoan parasites that can cause diarrhoea in a wide range of hosts including humans, livestock and wild animals. This project aims to determine the prevalence of faecal pathogens (including Cryptosporidium, Giardia Salmonella and E. coli) in dam water compared to bore or scheme water. The data generated from this study will be used to determine the risks to livestock from drinking water from dams.

Contact details for further information: Caroline Jacobson C.Jacobson@murdoch.edu.au

Prevalence and genetic characterization of blood-parasites in marsupials
Theileria, Babesia and Trypanosoma are haemoprotozoa (blood parasites) transmitted by insect vectors that can cause anaemia, fever and death. There has been no systematic study of native Australian haemoprotozoa and little is known of their epidemiology and impact. This study will provide important information on not only the biology of haemoprotozoa infecting marsupials as well as the transmission dynamics of haemoprotozoaand will also identify if there are any public health implications.

Contact details for further information: Una Ryan Una.Ryan@Murdoch.edu.au

Molecular characterization of benthic microbial communities of socio-economic importance
Benthic communities can represent a significant problem of global concern in many natural and artificial systems, like drinking water reservoirs, wastewater plants, desalination plants, or recreational lakes. Surveying the microbial species present in these samples is expected to shed light on the dynamics implicated in the formation and survival of biofilm, and improve management.

Contact details for further information: Andrea Paparini, A.Paparini@murdoch.edu.au

Wastewater treatment and microbial community composition and function
During wastewater treatment physical, chemical and biological contaminants are removed in dedicated treatment plants. During this process pathogens and pollutants can be inactivated or degraded by the activity of naturally occurring bacteria present in the plant. Beneficial microbial groups carry out specific biochemical reactions implicated in oxidation of contaminants, nitrogen and phosphorus removal etc. Understanding how environmental factors, engineering solutions and wastewater-quality affect the dynamics of these bacterial populations can be very important to achieve optimal treatment performance.

Contact details for further information: Andrea Paparini, A.Paparini@murdoch.edu.au

Development of a “gut-on-a chip” bioreactor for culturing for Cryptosporidium
Cryptosporidium is an enteric parasite that infects a wide range of hosts including humans, domestic and wild animals and currently represents the major public health concern of water utilities in developed nations. This project proposes to develop for the first time a miniaturised computer-controlled bioreactor that provides a continuous flow of nutrients and oxygen at a constant concentration precisely determined by a computer.  This  system which allows a large number of experiments and the identification of the culture conditions necessary to grow Cryptosporidium in a cost-effective way without host cells, that can then be upscaled to produce the large quantities needed for various studies.

Contact details for further information: Una Ryan Una.Ryan@Murdoch.edu.au

Molecular characterisation of a recent Theileria outbreak in in Australia’s South West.
This project will investigate the 2006 outbreak of the tick-borne parasitic organism Theileria orientalis in the Denmark Shire cattle population in Australia’s South West region. The study uses innovative genetic techniques to increase the knowledge about previously elusive organisms and will contribute to developing robust diagnostic tests for Australian tick-borne diseases.
Contact details for further information: Charlotte Oskam c.oskam@Murdoch.edu.au

Characterising the bacterial microbiome in avian ticks using Next Generation Sequencing.
This project will investigate the ticks that parasitise Australian avifauna and the bacterial diversity harboured within the ticks. This project combines microscope-based parasitological techniques and advanced molecular biology using the NGS platforms (Illumina MiSeq) for deep sequencing and metagenomics of bacterial microorganisms. The study uses innovative genetic techniques to increase the knowledge about previously elusive organisms and will contribute to developing robust diagnostic tests for Australian tick-borne diseases.
Contact details for further information: Charlotte Oskam c.oskam@Murdoch.edu.au

DVM Projects

We are always keen to talk to students interested in DVM internships