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HAPE Platforms, resources and approaches

Pathogens do not automatically pose a risk to human or animal health if there is no pathway by which they can reach that person or animal (the receptor). Therefore, using a Source-Pathway-Receptor approach to address human and animal pathogens in the environment is valuable.

Figure showing the Source-Pathway-Receptor approach

There may be multiple sources, pathways and receptors for a given pathogen, often forming complex webs (see diagram above). Using risk and exposure assessment, we can evaluate where to control sources, interrupt transmission pathways or protect receptors in order to prevent disease.

Research platforms and resources

Molecular and microbiology laboratories

Culture based and molecular approaches to detecting, tracking and typing pathogens, in addition to survival studies, adsorption tests and determination of surface characteristics are carried out in our extensive microbiology and cell and molecular biology laboratories.

Genomics and transcriptomics

This facility allows us to relate genomic information to environmental drivers of pathogens behaviour and allows us to understand how pathogens regulate gene expression under a range of environmental conditions.

Catchment processes and modelling

Wild birds as a source of faecal pathogens in waterLinking pathogen transport to hydrological models, sediment export maps, land use, weather and climate data allows us to predict “hotspots” of pathogen risk to humans and animals and to indicate future changes in pathogen or faecal indicator loadings. Long term ecological and water quality monitoring sites (Harmonised Monitoring Scheme sites, Tarland catchment, River Dee, National Waters Inventory Scotland) and Regulatory monitoring sites allow us to link pathogens and FIO data abundance and detection with water chemistry, ecological status and catchment characteristics.

Soil archives and Institute farms and research stations

Existing soils and DNA archives for Scotland along with the Scottish Soils database facilitate further linking of pathogen prevalence and behaviour to soil characteristics. Our farms – Glensaugh, Hartwood, Balruddery (Centre for Sustainable Cropping) provide ideal test-beds to address pathogens within the animal-crop/pasture-human pathways.

Climate controlled laboratory facilities

Our climate controlled cabinets and rooms, and a tick monitoring microcosm system we have developed, allow us to investigate climate change and weather effects on pathogens and tick behaviour and survival, including predictions of tick resilience to climate change and local adaptation to temperature behavioural thresholds between populations.

GIS-based predictive modelling

We have GIS databases of climate parameters, land use and large tick hosts for Scotland, as well as large data sets of tick relative abundance at 200 sites around Scotland in various environments. Our modelling resources allow us to combine these data to predict tick relative abundance over Scotland and predict how this will change under scenarios of climate and land use changes.

Research

Areas of Interest


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.