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Genomics and the Evolution of Pathogen Virulence


• Evolution of pathogen virulence.
• Examining the evolution and spread of two viral agents of rabbit biocontrol in Australia – myxoma virus (MYXV) and rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV).
• Comparative analysis.


Professor Edward Holmes.

Research location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program type



Although most studies of disease emergence have considered viruses and other pathogens jump species boundaries, it is equally important to determine how a new virus will evolve after it has successfully emerged.  Central to this is understanding the evolution of pathogen virulence.  In particular, will a pathogen evolve to become more or less nasty as it spreads in a new host?  Although there has been a great deal of theoretical work in this area, relatively little is known about the evolutionary genetic (genomic) basis to the evolution of pathogen virulence.  This project will utilize comparative methods to reveal evolution of virulence determinants through time and the selection pressures acting on these sites.  In collaborations with researchers a CSIRO in Canberra the project will consider as the classic cases of two viruses used to control European rabbit populations in Australia – myxoma virus (MYXV) and rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV).  This research may therefore also assist in the development of improved methods for biocontrol.

Additional information

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1800

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